The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has recorded multiple seizures of illicit cigarettes being smuggled into South Africa, with several million dollars’ worth of cigarettes confiscated recently.
The SANDF said a joint operation with members of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) based at the Beitbridge Port of Entry saw SANDF members of First Special Services Battalion (SSB) confiscate illicit Remington Gold cigarettes valued at R898,338 ($61,422).
The cigarettes were handed over to the Beitbridge SARS/Customs warehouse. The suspects transporting the cigarettes “ran back to Zimbabwe.” However, suspicion has been raised about the involvement of some military personnel in the syndicates that deprives the exchequer of millions of dollars eery year.
Members of First Special Services Battalion also confiscated two vehicles transporting illegal cigarettes worth a total of R1,427,522 ($97,586). One vehicle was a Toyota Hilux single cabin worth R300,000 ($20,511) and the other vehicle was an ambulance (Toyota Quantum) worth R250,000 ($17,094).
The success was achieved during a Joint Operation with the South African Police Service (SAPS), which was conducted on the R572 road in Musina. The Officer Commanding Joint Tactical Headquarters Limpopo, Colonel Choene Samuel Mabotja, as well as Limpopo Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, commended the members for the job well done, the SANDF said.
Members of First Special Services Battalion, deployed in the Madimbo Operational Base, also confiscated a Quantum, valued at R150,000 ($10,254) which was carrying illicit Express Royal cigarettes valued at R762 464 ($52,104).
The South African National Defence Force said it has zero tolerance for the smuggling of illegal cigarettes in Limpopo and will do everything in its power to stop the smuggling of illegal cigarettes into the country.
“The deployed soldiers will be looking everywhere to catch these smugglers, including in the bushes and in the vehicles driving on the roads,” the SANDF said.
This is in addition to other border protection taskings under Operation Corona. One such success was First SSB recovering a Ford Ranger valued at R300 000 in Musina. The SAPS in Musina confirmed that the vehicle was stolen in Hebron and that a case has been opened. Although the vehicle was recovered, suspects fled the scene.
- A Tell report