Fake cigarettes seized near billion mark

2011-11-10 22:46

Johannesburg - A married couple and a former SA Revenue Service (Sars) worker appeared in the Alexandra Magistrate's Court on Thursday in connection with smuggling contraband cigarettes, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) said.

They were remanded until November 15 when they would be expected to bring a formal bail application, chief executive officer Francois van der Merwe said.

He said the three were arrested on Tuesday when police and Sars officials raided a residence in Bedfordview, east of Johannesburg.

They faced over 200 charges related to the smuggling of contraband cigarettes.

The couple owned a company transporting goods from Zimbabwe to South Africa, Van der Merwe said.

"A warrant of arrest has been issued for the second Sars official."

Further details on the operations of the syndicate and the value of smuggled cigarettes were not immediately available.

TISA commended the police and Sars for making the arrest.

"About one billion illegal cigarettes have to date been seized through over 6 000 interventions by law enforcement officials," Van der Merwe said.

"In addition, over 500 people have been arrested on charges related to the smuggling and trade of contraband cigarettes."

Van der Merwe said the arrests sent a warning signal to other illegal traders that no one was above the law.

Read more on:    sars  |  tisa

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