Cape Town – A 35-year-old man has been arrested after Metro Police officers confiscated counterfeit cigarettes valued at nearly R1 million in the Ravensmead area yesterday.
Officers were conducting lockdown patrols in the Ravensmead area just before 4pm when they noticed a light delivery vehicle with an essential services sticker, which they thought odd, City of Cape Town spokesperson Ruth Solomons said on Friday.
"They stopped the vehicle and the driver indicated he was transporting cigarettes. Officers found 70 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes in the vehicle, with an estimated street value of R955 500.
"The 35-year-old driver was arrested for possession of counterfeit cigarettes and for Contravening the Disaster Management Act. He was detained at Ravenmead SAPS for further investigation."
Tax Justice South Africa founder Yusuf Abramjee has expressed concern that the lockdown liquor and tobacco ban has given rise to an increase in illicit trade.
“The ban is dangerous in so many ways. It is encouraging movement, encouraging looting, impoverishing people who are paying sky-high prices and impoverishing the country when it needs the money most.
“Because 11 million smokers can’t buy cigarettes in the stores they visit for food, they are forced to seek them elsewhere and spread Covid-19 unnecessarily.
“Every day of the lockdown, the nation is losing more than R35 million in lost excise duties on cigarettes alone – money that is desperately needed by government to fight this crisis.
“Instead that money is going to criminals who are charging inflated prices on the black market and exploiting the most vulnerable.”