Soldiers seize contraband cigarettes


Border protection is a term covering many tasks as illustrated by the seizure of contraband cigarettes valued at close to R1,5 million over the last two weeks.

In addition to their first and most important tasking of stemming the flow of illegal immigrants to South Africa, troops stationed along South Africa’s border with both Mozambique and Zimbabwe, are also on the lookout for smugglers and rhino poachers.

The massive confiscation of cigarettes, destined for sale on street and in spaza shops by unscrupulous traders, has been welcomed by SANDF Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi.
“The illegal tobacco trade impacts negatively on South Africans’ socio-economic situation in that it takes away excise duty and tobacco taxes that should be flowing into National Treasury. It also makes it difficult for government to achieve its set budget objectives and the contribution of the SANDF to eradicating this type of illegal activity on the country’s borders contributes positively overall to the country,” he said.

The illegal cigarettes, valued at R1 465 026, were seized in separate incidents in Limpopo.

In the first, soldiers on a standing patrol at Shamadumbo smelt a rat when they spotted least 40 people on foot all carrying boxes and cartons. When approached they dropped what they were carrying and fled back into Zimbabwe.

Soldiers recovered 77 boxes, 36 cartons and six loose packets of Pacific Blue cigarettes which were all handed to the SA Revenue Service local office in Musina.

In the second contraband cigarette seizure, soldiers on patrol duty at Maremane farm found 2 247 cartons of Seville cigarettes and a short while later came across another stash, this one consisting of 1 667 cartons on a white Mitsubishi Colt bakkies (registration CKV 742 L). The utility vehicle was removed by SA Revenue Service personnel and a case opened at Musina Police Station.

Soldiers were not able to arrest any suspects in either of the seizures.