As part of its fight against illegal imports and exports, various government departments will be coming together in a “joint” move to destroy a whopping 12 million illegal cigarettes.
According to the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the cigarettes are all worth an estimated R18 million. The destruction is set to take place on Friday, 9 April 2021, 08:00 in Cape Town, at the State Warehouse, located at no.9 FW de Klerk Boulevard.
“The cigarettes will be shredded on-site, with due regard to health and safety protocols. The waste will then be transferred via a conveyor belt to special trucks and removed under supervision to a secured landfill site,” SARS said.
The cigarettes are believed to have been seized in various operations, including in the seizure of a 40-foot container smuggled into the country and falsely declared as another commodity.
“The clampdown on illicit imports and exports is a major focus of government under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Illicit Trade, which consists of several government departments and agencies,” SARS further said.
“The IAWG focuses on illegal clothing, textiles, footwear, leather, infrastructure sold as scrap metal, as well as second hand motor vehicles”
The revenue service has condemned the illegal trade altogether and said it hopes the destruction of the cigarettes sends a strong message – that government has adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards illegal trade and that people must be sensitised about the harm that these goods do to the country’s economy and the health of its citizens.
Illegal cigarette trade helps fund syndicates
“Such illegal activities destroy the country’s manufacturing capacity, which in turn leads to unemployment, inequality and poverty. Illegal imports and exports are also a source of funding for criminal syndicates,” SARS added.
“The fight against the scourge of illegal imports and exports is also of major importance because it reduces the amount of revenue that SARS collects. The revenue generated plays an important role in enabling government to build a capable state that provides basic services to poor and vulnerable individuals and households, as well as relief to employers and employees during the Covid-19 pandemic”
The South African Revenue Service (SARS)
A big question however is whether the illegal acquisition of the cigarettes was from 2020, when the ban was implemented during the earlier stages of the lockdown.