South African Revenue Services (SARS) officials seized R4,2 million worth of illegal cigarettes in two separate raids on the same day earlier this week, the agency said on Wednesday.
The raids occurred on Monday November 23 at the Groblersbridge border post between Botswana and South Africa, and the Beit Bridge border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela said the first stash of illegal cigarettes was discovered at the Groblersbridge border as a customs inspector “noted a suspicious engagement between a truck driver and clearing agents within the import control area”.
“The truck driver and clearing agents were then linked to a specific truck, where, upon inspection, it was found that the container was bigger on the outside than on the inside”
Convinced that a “deal” was being closed, the inspector alerted a SAPS officer.
“The truck driver and clearing agents were then linked to a specific truck, where, upon inspection, it was found that the container was bigger on the outside than on the inside,” said Memela.
inspector discovered almost 18,000 cartons of illegal cigarettes
The inspector discovered almost 18,000 cartons of illegal cigarettes, worth R3,6 million in an almost empty container’s false compartment. The truck was travelling from Zambia to South Africa and the vehicle and carton were detained.
Memela said: “A Zambian national was arrested in connection with suspected smuggling” and a criminal case had been opened for investigation.
The Beit Bridge case involved a routine check in which a customs officer stopped a truck at 10:45pm on Monday and “discovered the driver did not have a temporary import permit”.
“This prompted him to search the seemingly empty truck.”
“This prompted him to search the seemingly empty truck”
The officer found 3,135 cartons of Pacific Blue cigarettes within a false compartment hidden underneath the trailer.
The cigarettes were estimated to be worth R600,000
The truck driver, a Zimbabwean national, was arrested and the truck and cigarettes detained.
Memela said the two seizures of illegal cigarettes were significant crackdowns on criminal activities by SARS custom officials “who implement daily inspections in an effort to foil smuggling of goods, as is evident from seizures of approximately 61,5 million cigarettes valued at R54,3 million so far during this financial year (between April and October 2015)”.
Author: ANA Newswire