R4m cigarette bust commended

Johannesburg - The discovery of contraband cigarettes with a street value of over R4 million by police in Benoni this week was a sterling success, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) said on Thursday.

TISA CEO Francois van der Merwe praised government's efforts to improve border controls between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

File image - Developing countries facing potentially pricey legal challenges from big tobacco firms are to get help from a new $4 million fund created by the philanthropists Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg. AP Photo/Dave Martin. Credit: AP

On Wednesday, Gauteng police Captain Doniah Mothutsane said the bust was made at a truck stop in Crystal Park, after police received a tip-off on Tuesday night about a truck travelling from Zimbabwe.

The cigarettes had an estimated street value of R4.6 million, Mothutsane said.

The truck was hauling what appeared to be timber, but there were thousands of cigarette cartons stored inside it.

Two people, aged 24 and 53, were arrested for possession of illegal cigarettes and contravening the tobacco act. They were due to appear in court on Thursday.

Van der Merwe said illicit cigarette trading in 2013 cost government R5 billion in revenue.

“TISA will continue to support government and law enforcement in their efforts to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products,” he said.