JOHANNESBOURG, (ACJ News) THE seizure of a truckload of illegal cigarettes from Zimbabwe highlights the raging war between criminals in the illicit tobacco trade in South Africa.

Authorities have confirmed the seizure of cigarettes worth R13 million (approximately US $ 914,000) over the weekend.

The seizure came the same week that a major independent investigation found illegal cigarettes were now on sale at three out of four outlets in South Africa’s hotspot provinces.

Yusuf Abramjee, founder of Tax Justice SA (TJSA), said the seized truck was proof, on a large scale, of the report’s conclusion that the company making the cigarettes in question was in a price war with the criminal members. of the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) for the control of the illicit market.

“These criminals are so brazen and fat that they send huge trucks across the country to distribute cigarettes on the world’s biggest black market,” he said.

“They are robbing our citizens of billions in unpaid taxes at a time when they are desperately needed to fight the pandemic and rebuild the economy. This is an industrial-scale crime that should be treated as a public emergency and a national priority for law enforcement. “

The sale of cigarettes is a sensitive issue in South Africa.

Cigarette sales were banned when the country imposed the first coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in late March 2020.

– CAJ News