5 million contraband cigarettes destroyed
Johannesburg - More than five million contraband cigarettes were destroyed by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) in Polokwane, the tobacco industry said on Monday.
They were seized in raids on retailers, resellers and wholesalers over several months, Francois van der Merwe, chairperson and CEO of the Tobacco Institute of SA (Tisa) said.
"If these cigarettes were sold in South Africa, the loss in excise duties to Sars would have been R2 469 090."
Tisa destroyed the cigarettes for Sars last week, using custom-built mills that shredded them into fine pieces.
The shreddings were ploughed into landfill sites.
"The process took place in the presence of Sars officials," van der Merwe said.
Last year, an estimated 1.2 billion illegal cigarettes were seized in 7000 police raids, he said.
Also in 2011, 800 people were arrested on charges relating to the smuggling and trade of contraband cigarettes.
"The arrests should send a strong warning to other illicit traders that no one is above the law," Van der Merwe said.