The percentage of people buying single cigarettes has more than tripled during lockdown.
The percentage of people buying single cigarettes has more than tripled during lockdown.

Do you smoke in your car or in public? Better have a receipt on hand

By Bongani Hans Time of article published May 23, 2020

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Durban - Cigarettes should only be enjoyed in the privacy of your home and if you are found with one in your car, you will have a lot of explaining to do, including disclosing who sold it to you.

This was a warning from Police Minister Bheki Cele. “Cigarettes must be smoked in your house as it is not illegal to smoke. The only problem is when we find it in your car and you fail to show us where you got the cigarette. When you say you brought the cigarette, here is the receipt, we take you and go and get the person who sold the cigarette to you,” said Cele.

He said organised crime had taken an advantage of the ban on alcohol and cigarettes to expand their illicit trade. Cele said there had been an increase in the smuggling of contraband liquor and tobacco between South African borders with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, which were then sold on the black market.

He said law enforcement agents had confiscated alcohol and cigarettes worth more than R1million and R1.6m in March and April respectively.

Cele said under level 5, more than 100000 cases were recorded against those breaking lockdown regulations.

“In just over a month, this number has more than doubled and it is almost at 200030 contraventions (so far),” Cele said.

“These include liquor-related and cigarette-related offences, illegal gathering, which have gone down since the level 4 (started), failure to confine to places of residents, which remains a serious challenge, cross-border and inter-provincial business-related offences,” he said.

Cele said most offences happened in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which “mirrored the infection rates”.

He said while domestic violence, house and business robberies and hijackings had declined during the lockdown period, there were crimes that had increased during the level 4.

“On March 26, 2019, and March 27, 2020, we had 2970 murders, but under lockdown we had 1072, and the difference was 1898 (cases),” he said.

He said rape had declined by 4431, attempted murder by 139, assault 17796, robberies with aggravating circumstances were 9427 down.

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