- A 41-year-old man has been arrested after police caught him in possession of boxes of cigarettes worth R716 000.
- It is alleged that the car he was travelling in belonged to a business owner in Steylerville.
- He was arrested for selling tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products to members of the public.
A 41-year-old man has been arrested after being found in possession of cigarettes worth R716 000 in Steylerville, in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality of the Eastern Cape.
According to the police, the cigarettes were found hidden under charcoal during a daily patrol, when the Toyota Hilux bakkie the man was travelling in was searched on Saturday.
"On searching the vehicle, the alert policemen found 14 boxes, containing 718 cartons of cigarettes, hidden under bags of charcoal," provincial police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said.
It is believed that the bakkie belonged to a business owner in Steylerville.
Tonjeni said that the man was arrested and the cigarettes were confiscated by the Klipplaat police.
He was arrested for dealing in, transporting and selling of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products to members of the public.
"Criminals will use any mode to conceal and transport their illegal products," Eastern Cape's police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga said after the arrest.
"Police must clamp down on the movement of illegal merchandise," she added.
The sale of cigarettes and tobacco products has been banned since 26 March, with the government arguing that research supports its view that smoking leads to more severe cases of Covid-19.
The government defeated a court challenge to unban cigarettes from the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association in June, with the High Court ruling it fell within the powers of the state under the Disaster Management Act to ban the sale of tobacco.