SARS official in court over R10 million illicit cigarette scam

National News

10 December 2020

Staff Reporter/PretoriaLIVE.

Pretoria – A 36-year-old official from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was remanded in custody on Wednesday by the Tshilwavhusiku Magistrate’s Court on charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice following the seizure of a truck carrying over R10 million worth of illicit cigarettes in Limpopo last week.

Makhado police noticed a speeding truck along the N1 road and tried to stop it but the driver sped off. Later the said truck was found abandoned in Magau area and police searched it and confiscated boxes of the illicit cigarettes with an estimated street value of R9 903 474,00,” said Limpopo police Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo.

The 36 year old customs official was arrested after investigation led to him and two other suspects who have since been arrested and will appear in court soon.

Following a spate of smuggling of illicit drugs into the country the Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) has called for an urgent investigation into smuggling at the country’s porous borders to stop criminals looting South Africa of millions.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says, “Illicit cigarettes have been flooding over our borders since criminals took complete control of the tobacco market during the lockdown sales ban and they have established the world’s biggest black market in cigarettes and are making billions of rand every month in tax-free profits, while our ailing economy is being starved of vital funds.”

Abramjee added that the alleged involvement of a SARS official is a sinister development which calls for a full and thorough investigation of activities at countries port of entry.

“It is the latest in a series of busts that have featured Remington Gold cigarettes, that are made in Zimbabwe by Gold Leaf. The tobacco giant also manufactures several local brands including RG, Sahawi, Chicago, Voyager and Sharp at its Gauteng factory.”

“Gold Leaf brands were by far the biggest sellers during the lockdown sales ban and Remington Gold cigarettes were successfully smuggled into the country resulting in over five million of them being sold every day throughout South Africa,” lamented Abramjee.

“They are now openly available throughout the country, along with other brands on which due taxes are obviously not being paid”.

Tax Justice South Africa campaigns for a lawful and prosperous South Africa and calls for urgent action against criminals who steals billions in legally due taxes every year.

TJSA believes approximately R 250 million is looted every day from South Africa by the illicit economy.