“Crime doesn’t pay,” the saying goes. And a woman from Brakpan, on Johannesburg’s East Rand, recently discovered this for herself when she tried to buy cigarettes.
The woman, who doesn’t want to be named, tells YOU she’d been planning to buy cigarettes for friends and family members who smoke because she felt sorry for them.
But she ended up getting swindled out of thousands of rands.
“The worst part is that I don’t even smoke,” she tells YOU.
Tobacco may still not be sold under SA’s lockdown rules.
Last week, a friend told the woman of a man who said he could supply dirt-cheap cigarettes.
“He’d been walking in my friend’s neighbourhood, distributing face masks. He told her he also sells cigarettes,” the woman says.
He mentioned that he could supply cigarettes at R280 a carton but that he only sells in bulk.
“I took orders from my friends and family – my husband’s a smoker.”
She took about R15 500 worth of orders and received the money in cash.
“I told the man I’d meet him at a friend’s house last week Tuesday. They’re doing construction work on the house and it’s empty at the moment.”
At the friend’s house, she and the man started counting the money but she kept wondering where the promised merchandise was.
“The man explained that a friend is driving around with the cigarettes in his car nearby.
“We counted the money together and he put it in an envelope. At one point he asked if I didn’t have any R20 notes. It must’ve been to distract me as I searched my bag for the notes.”
The man put the envelope on the table and left the house.
“The car was parked further along the street and I found it strange. Why would he park that far away if he had to walk all the way back carrying illegal cigarettes?”
That’s when something told her to run back into the house and check the envelope. It was stuffed with newspaper cuttings.
“He must’ve swopped the envelope when I wasn’t looking. I was hysterical. I screamed loudly that I’d been robbed but that man had already disappeared with my money.”
She couldn’t go to the police. “My friend warned me not to because I’d been involved in something illegal.”
She starts crying on the other end of the phone as she speaks to YOU.
“I don’t have money. I’d really just wanted to help my loved ones. I know how tough smokers have it in this time. And now everyone’s blaming me. They say I stole their money. One acquaintance gave me R8 000 and it’s gone.”
She had to take out a loan to repay the people.
“I don’t know how I’m going to repay the loan. I can’t believe something like this happened to me.”