Most illicit cigarettes now made in SA - Sotyu

2015-11-10 21:13
Maggie Sotyu (Picture: Beeld)

Maggie Sotyu (Picture: Beeld)

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Cape Town - The majority of illicit cigarettes are no longer smuggled into the country, but are manufactured in South Africa, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu said on Tuesday.

And those behind this criminal trade are "very sophisticated, very complex and very organised", she said. 

"We are informed that the majority of illicit cigarettes are manufactured here in South Africa, in both approved factories and illegal covert operations," she said at the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa’s (Tisa's) anti-illicit trade conference in Cape Town.

She said about 60% were manufactured in the country, while the rest was smuggled in predominantly from Zimbabwe.

She said the cigarettes were illicit because they were not declared to the SA Revenue Service and resulted in money laundering. Money from the sale of the cigarettes was also used to fund criminal groups across the globe.

Sotyu said illicit cigarette trading had declined in the 2014/2015 financial year - down from 31% to 23%.

This was because it had been identified as a priority crime, she said.

But, despite this, the country still ranked among the top five countries in the world - Malaysia, Iraq, Brazil and Pakistan - with the highest incidence of trade in illicit cigarettes.

According to Tisa, historically, illicit cigarettes were smuggled into the country from Dubai, China, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

"It is said the loss to the fiscus since 2010 can be conservatively estimated at more than R21bn," Sotyu said.

The use of illicit cigarettes also weakened government’s efforts to reduce tobacco consumption because of the availability of cheap cigarettes. She said many illicit cigarette packs lacked appropriate health warnings and exceeded the maximum tar and nicotine levels.

The conference has been host to about 100 delegates from southern, eastern and western Africa. It has focused on supply chain controls, efficient enforcement of offenders and international cooperation to tackle the illicit trade.

It concludes on Wednesday.

Read more on:    maggie sotyu  |  cape town  |  crime

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