FITA Press Release 18 April 2021

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Press release – FITA – for immediate release

FITA Press Release 18 April 2021

We commend the efforts of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department acting in conjunction with SAPS Crime Intelligence which bust a large consignment of 1600 master cases of illicit cigarettes on the Etwatwa off-ramp near Daveyton yesterday, 17 April 2021.

The cigarettes, which equate to approximately R 17 227 600.00 in unpaid taxes alone, entered into the country through the notoriously porous Beitbridge border post misleadingly described as cotton yarn. This tactic seems to be gaining popularity among criminal enterprises and, we have seen in recent times cigarettes which have been detained by law enforcement having entered the country illegally, mostly from Zimbabwe, and predominantly through the Beitbridge border post, described as inter alia furniture, scrap metal, and cotton yarn.

We have in recent times highlighted the surge in illicit cigarettes smuggled into the country via our neighbouring countries, particularly following the ill-advised, 5 month-long, tobacco sales ban. We again plead with the relevant authorities to monitor the situation at our various border posts, particularly Beitbridge, as there appears to be collaboration between the criminals involved in the smuggling of these cigarettes and some officials at these border posts. We are of the firm view that better checks and balances need to be put into place by government to ensure that the system is foolproof and incapable of being easily manipulated.

A failure to urgently address this issue and nip this scourge in the bud will in all likelihood lead to the eventual demise of the local legitimate tobacco industry and the revenue government generates therefrom.

We are however encouraged by the latest efforts from various law enforcement agencies to tackles this challenge and, we are hopeful that together we can succeed in eradicating this menace to our society.

Issued by Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association Chairperson: Sinenhlanhla Mnguni 18 April 2021

For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za

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