News24

Cigarettes seized at Beit Bridge

2012-10-11 19:55

Johannesburg - Contraband cigarettes of about R3m have been confiscated at the Beit Bridge border post, the Tobacco Institute of SA (Tisa) said on Thursday.

On Tuesday, SA Revenue Services (Sars) customs officials found the cigarettes in a fuel tanker coming into Limpopo from Zimbabwe, Tisa said in a statement.

Around 25 000 cartons were concealed in the fuel tanker and its trailer.

The tanks had been fitted with false compartments around the top access hatch, which meant that a dipstick test would have indicated the tanker was empty.

The trailer had been cut open, filled with cigarettes, welded shut and then repainted before the smugglers tried to take it over the border.

"It is clear that a considerable amount of effort was put into this attempt, and that similar effort would have been required at the tanker's final destination to reopen the tanks and retrieve the cigarettes," Tisa said.

Its chief executive Francois van der Merwe commended Sars and the police on their efforts in combating the illegal cigarette trade.

"Law enforcement authorities such as Sars and the [SA Police Service] SAPS have really stepped up their efforts to reduce the illegal trade in cigarettes over the past year," he said.

About R4bn in excise duties and tax are lost annually through the illegal cigarette trade.