Yet another illustration of how lucrative the South African cigarette market is for smugglers comes in the form of four separate busts by soldiers patrolling the Zimbabwe border, netting illicit cigarettes worth over R1 million.
The first haul, during what is termed “a waylay”, presumably an ambush, at a site called Echo 3, saw smugglers drop 25 so-called master boxes and 48 cartons of cigarettes before making a successful getaway. The counterfeit cigarettes, all Remington Gold brand, are valued at R346 491.
The second reported Op Corona cigarette bust was at Weipe where – again – no arrests were made but police and SA Revenue Service (SARS) warehouses found themselves 18 master boxes of cigarettes worth R250 875 “richer”.
Bust number three north of Beit Bridge saw 21 master boxes (value R267 182) confiscated and the fourth and final success for the week on the South Africa/Zimbabwe border at Madimbo netted 32 master boxes valued at R449 160.
While their colleagues on South Africa’s northern land border were busy counting cigarettes, soldiers based at Belfort on the Lesotho border doing vehicle checking found over 100 kg of dagga in the loading bay of a bakkie. The narcotic, widely grown in the mountain kingdom, is worth R500 000 and is now with what the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) terms the “relevant authorities” awaiting destruction.