Man arrested at Beitbridge border for allegedly smuggling illicit cigarettes worth R21m into SA

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A general view of the border fence that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post. Photo: Phill Magakoe, AFP
A general view of the border fence that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post. Photo: Phill Magakoe, AFP
  • A 47-year-old man was arrested after allegedly smuggling illicit cigarettes worth millions into South Africa from Zimbabwe in January.
  • It is alleged that he crossed into the country at the Beitbridge border post, claiming to be transporting cotton. 
  • In a similar case, six men were arrested after being found in possession of illicit cigarettes worth R5 million on a farm in Limpopo. 

A 47-year-old Zimbabwean national has appeared in court after he was allegedly caught entering South Africa at the Beitbridge border with illicit cigarettes valued at more than R21 million.

Peter Tambudze appeared in Musina Magistrate’s Court in Limpopo on Thursday where he is facing charges of fraud, false declaration, and possession of illicit cigarettes.

The matter was postponed to 14 February for a formal bail application.

It is alleged that on 19 January, Tambudze arrived at the Beitbridge border post from Zimbabwe.

He was driving a truck with two trailers.

"He declared on the SAD 500/Entry form that he is transporting cotton," Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said.

“Along the way from Musina, police officers stopped the truck and searched it. They found that the truck was loaded with illicit cigarettes worth over R21 million, and he was arrested."

READ | A smuggler maps out how he gets undocumented immigrants into SA

Police subsequently confiscated the truck, two trailers, and the cigarettes.

In a similar matter, six people appeared in the Mable Hall Periodical Court for possession of illicit cigarettes worth more than R5 million.

It is alleged that Jan Botha, 42, Ekman Eddie, 34, Harley Reegan, 29, Sibanda Clement, 42, De Well Elton, 34, and Bhikoo Ephraim, 57, were arrested after being found in possession of the cigarettes on 27 January.

Malabi-Dzhangi said:

It is alleged that upon police arrival, the suspects were in the process of packaging the cigarettes inside a gas tank at Toitskraal farm.

"The police allegedly found Bhikoo Ephraim, who is the owner of the farm, and they also found two suspects who were inside the gas tanker offloading cigarettes."

The driver of the gas tanker ran away and was still at large, the NPA added.

Police confiscated three trucks, a gas tanker, an Isuzu bakkie, Toyota Auris, and cigarettes.

The matter has been transferred to Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for bail applications on 15 February.

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