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Bangladeshi trio held over possession of illicit cigarettes worth more than R500 000

THE Tshwane Metro Police have arrested three Bangladeshi nationals who were in allegedly possession of illicit cigarettes worth over R500 000.

THE Tshwane Metro Police have arrested three Bangladeshi nationals who were in allegedly possession of illicit cigarettes worth over R500 000.

Published May 26, 2022

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JOHANNESBURG – The Tshwane Metro Police have arrested three Bangladeshi nationals who were allegedly in possession of illicit cigarettes worth over R500 000.

The three suspects were arrested by members of the Tshwane Metro police’s tactical unit at a store in Hercules, Tshwane.

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The metro police unit had received a tip-off about the shop allegedly selling illicit cigarettes that led to the arrest.

The operation saw officers search the entire premises, leading to them uncovering alleged illicit and unlawful tobacco products.

The three Bangladeshi nationals who were arrested were found at the store.

Tshwane Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said: “The cigarettes were found have an estimated street value of R500 000.

“The three males were arrested and will appear in court soon.”

Mahamba added “ Well done to the team; keep up the good work.”

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He said police relied on experts to determine that the cigarettes were allegedly illicit goods.

Last year, a report titled Cartel Power Dynamics in Zimbabwe, which was authored by anonymous stakeholders in Zimbabwe, detailed how cartels had crippled state institutions in Zimbabwe. It said there was little political will for the matter to be addressed.

The report exposed how cigarette companies were illegally infiltrating the South African market, while dodging the local taxman at the same time.

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The report estimated that over $5 billion (about R73bn at the time) was lost through corrupt dealings spearheaded by the cigarette, fuel and agriculture cartels.

The report detailed how cigarettes were smuggled into South Africa – where they are no longer liable for 40% excise duty and are then sold cheaper in the local market than locally produced tobacco products.

Meanwhile, the South African Revenue Services has been trying to confiscate and destroy illicit cigarettes in the market.

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In February, the Daily News reported that more than R500m in illicit tobacco products had been recovered in the KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces.

SARS, through its Criminal and Illicit Economic Activities and Customs divisions, had carried out inspections, as well as search and seizure operations on cigarette companies and manufacturers in the three provinces.

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