The South African Revenue Service (Sars) Customs division will destroy the illicit consignment of 1 032 cartons of cigarettes valued at R20 million that were seized at the Durban harbour. File Picture: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) Customs division will destroy the illicit consignment of 1 032 cartons of cigarettes valued at R20 million that were seized at the Durban harbour. File Picture: REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Sars to destroy illicit cigarettes worth R20m seized at the Durban harbour

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Oct 6, 2021

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DURBAN -THE South African Revenue Service (Sars) Customs division will destroy the illicit consignment of 1 032 cartons of cigarettes valued at R20 million that were seized at the Durban harbour.

In a statement Sars said: “Customs officers inspected the consignment and found that the cigarettes did not comply with the legal requirements such as the inclusion of the SA diamond stamp on the packaging and that the health warnings were not in English. It was also established that the importer’s details were fictitious.”

The destruction of the cigarettes will take place this Thursday.

In recent months Sars has cracked down on illicit cigarettes entering the country.

Last month Sars through its National Rapid Response Team and its Illicit Trade Unit, supported by the South African Police Service and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department conducted search and seizure operations on three shops in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, focusing on the sale of suspected illicit tobacco products. The team found 1 337 cartons of illicit molasses as well as illicit cigarettes with an estimated value of R400 000.

In another operation, in August, Customs officials seized illicit cigarettes worth R10m at the Durban harbour.

The cigarettes had been declared as tissue paper.

The bust in Durban came after an operation in Cape Town a few days prior where illegal cigarettes valued at R6m were seized. The value of the cigarettes in both seizures amounts to R16m.

“The Durban bust was based on information received about a container that was imported from an East Asian country with contents incorrectly declared as tissue paper,” Sars said.

As a result of July’s riots in KwaZulu-Natal, the vessel was delayed at the outer anchorage and the container was only released on July 16. However, once the container was scrutinised on the Transnet system, it was found that it had illicit cigarettes, which may also be counterfeit.

There were further delays at the port as a result of the Transnet core systems but when the port started recovering, the container of cigarettes was released from the port on July 28.

Sars said that on the following day, it was established that the cargo was delivered to a storage facility at Old North Coast Road in Glen Anil, north of Durban.

“On July 30, a search warrant was obtained at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court and Sars entered the premises. Inside the warehouse were 950 master cases of Pacific 14mg cigarettes (illicit product) and 50 boxes of tissue paper,” said Sars.

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