Eight held for R17 mln cigarette haul

2013-03-13 00:00

POLICE arrested eight people in connection with a haul of counterfeit cigarettes worth R17 million in Newcastle on Friday night.

Spokesperson Warrant Officer Simon Luthuli said police followed a heavily laden horse-and-trailer to a factory storeroom in the town and found a group offloading a truck.

The stash had been hidden under bags of manure.

The street was teeming with police officers and a small contingent of South African Revenue Service (SARS) 0customs officials.

“The counterfeit stock has been confiscated by SARS and transported to Durban, where it will be first analysed and then destroyed,” Luthuli said.

Truck driver Simon Mawone (41) appeared in the Newcastle Magistrate’s Court on Monday with Azaria Chouke (36), Naim Asmal (26), Rishaad Mughoo (29), Mohamed Osman (32), Faizal Tarrewala (19) and Mamenur Rasad (28) after spending the weekend behind bars. They were charged with possession of counterfeit cigarettes.

The eighth accused, who is 16, cannot be named.

Four of the adult suspects were granted bail of R5 000. The remaining three adults were denied bail and will be moved to Newcastle Prison. The case has been postponed to March 18.

SARS spokesperson Marika Muller said they were following up on further information provided by the driver and his accomplices.

“SARS takes all smuggling very seriously and, as per our monthly enforcement reports, is making considerable headway in combating it,” she said.

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