Beitbridge: Alert Customs Officers Find Smuggled Cigarettes Worth R9 Million

Musina – South African Customs officers at Beitbridge Border Post on Saturday, (20 May 2023), intercepted smuggled Remington Gold cigarettes falsely declared as cotton seed oil cake.

The contraband concealed in a truck consisted of 440 master boxes of cigarettes with an estimated value of R9 million, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said.

Narrating events leading to the arrest of the truck driver and the goods being detained, SARS said: “The Customs Officer conducting random inspection became suspicious when the value of goods declared on the document and the load on the truck did not match”. 

SARS added: “Upon questioning the driver, the answers provided were inconsistent with the document”. 

The customs officer redirected the truck to the inspection ramp and unpacked the load and discovered the smuggled cigarettes hidden under cotton seed oil cake.

“The truck and the goods were detained and booked in the SARS State warehouse,” SARS said. 

“The suspect [driver] was arrested and handed over to the SAPS (South African Police Service).”

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter applauded the SARS Customs Division officers for their dedication and commitment to protecting the economy of the country.  

“SARS acting consonant with its strategic objective of making it hard and costly for taxpayers and traders who are wilfully defrauding the state will be dealt with forcefully and mercilessly,” Kieswetter.

“SARS working with other law-enforcement agencies remain resolute in dealing with criminality and non-compliance with the country’s customs law”.

Last week, ( May 2023), Moneyweb reported that there has been an increase in incidents of cross-border smuggling activities of products that carry no safety warnings. 

The South African government was not collecting any tax on these products.

Moneyweb reported that the growing illicit market translates into an annual loss of between R9 billion and R10 billion in tax revenue for the government.