Suspects found with R9.6 million illicit cigarettes sentenced

Over R9 million worth of Remington Gold cigarettes was recovered. Picture: SAPS

Over R9 million worth of Remington Gold cigarettes was recovered. Picture: SAPS

Published Oct 13, 2023


Two Zimbabwean nationals have been sentenced in the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Limpopo for the possession of R9.6 million worth of illicit cigarettes and corruption.

Marshall Masiya, 32, and Oswald Raisi, 27, pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them.

The court heard that on May 20, at the Beitbridge border, officials from the South African Revenue Services (Sars) conducted an inspection and noticed that the number of goods declared on the document and the load on the truck did not correspond.

The truck was redirected to the inspection ramp and the load was subsequently unpacked.

Officials found 440 master boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes valued at R9.6 million hidden under the cotton oil cake.

The court heard Raisi offered the Sars official R30,000 as a gratification to prevent him from inspecting and searching the truck.

The official called police officers and the duo was arrested.

In aggravation of sentence, State Prosecutor advocate Phumudzo Mudau submitted the duo has been convicted on very serious offences which are prevalent within the court’s jurisdiction.

“The accused were not remorseful. The value of cigarettes is too high, and a serious message should be sent to potential offenders by imposing harsher sentences. There is a huge cry in society that the courts must address corruption by imposing harsher sentences,” Mudau submitted.

The State called for the court to impose a custodial sentence for corruption.

The Renault truck in which Masiya and Raisi were travelling in, two trailers and the 44 master boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes were forfeited to the State.

Masiya was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for illegal immigration.

Raisi was sentenced to five years imprisonment or a fine of R5 million for the possession of illicit cigarettes and eight years imprisonment for corruption.

The court also declared both men unfit to possess a firearm.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in Limpopo, advocate Ivy Thenga welcomed the sentence and said the sentence should send a strong message to would-be offenders.

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