Soldiers bust cigarette smugglers on Zim border, police emulate them in-country


The best efforts of a stretched landward force to prevent contraband of all types flooding South Africa are to be seen in the millions of cigarettes confiscated by soldiers on the border protection tasking.

That there is another side to the smuggling coin, again showing the porosity of national borders and/or an apparent lack of manpower at other ports of entry and the many unpatrolled kilometres of land border, comes from the SA Police Service (SAPS).

This month Gauteng provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, made public a counterfeit cigarette bust in the Kliprivier area of Vereeniging. Police arrested nine suspects transferring the illicit tobacco product from “a big truck to smaller trucks” a statement by Colonel Dimakatso Sello has it. The street value of the confiscated cigarettes is estimated at R6,6 million.

Making a dent in the number of illicit cigarettes entering the country are infantry soldiers tasked with territorial integrity on the South Africa/Zimbabwe border, west of Musina. Regular patrols, observation and intelligence gathering saw soldiers stop smugglers carrying just on R500 000 worth of illicit Remington brand cigarettes at Dongola Kop.

Further east, soldiers from 121 SA Infantry Battalion confiscated over 30kg of dagga worth an estimated R100 000 from smugglers en route to Gauteng from Eswatini and Mozambique in three separate incidents. A battalion spokesman said soldiers were finding an increase in illegal narcotic smuggling in their area of operations and would continue doing their level best to stop illegal transport of the weed.