A 25-year-old Zimbabwean man has been fined R40 000 by a Polokwane Magistrate Court for smuggling 330 cartons of Remmington Gold Cigarettes worth R87 000 into South Africa.
Walter Madhongi was arrested by South Africa’s specialised crime unit, the Hawks, in October this year.
The South African police are cracking down on crime around Limpopo province under an operation code name “Zizo Jika Izinto” (Things will change). Over 5 000 people have been arrested across Limpopo province since the start of the operation on 16 November, for crimes including, border jumping, smuggling, drug peddling, armed robberies, and murder among others. Madhongi was convicted after he pleaded guilty to the charges of dealing in illicit cigarettes last Friday afternoon.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo, Captain Matimba Maluleke said the man has been in remand prison since his arrest on October 20, after failing to secure bail on several occasions.
“On October 20, the Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crime Investigation members received a tip-off about people, who were selling illicit cigarettes at Polokwane lodge,” he said.
The official said the team immediately proceeded to the lodge where they found 330 cartoons of Remington Gold cigarettes hidden in one of the rooms.
“The cigarettes with a value of R87 000 were seized and Madhongi was arrested,” said Captain Maluleke. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a fine of R40 000 or alternatively three years imprisonment. Eighteen months of the sentence were suspended on condition he pays a defects fine of R5 000.”
South Africa has become one of the major destinations for cigarettes that are smuggled through Beitbridge border post or illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River.
The Herald is reliably informed that almost 30 percent of the cigarettes on the South African market are from Zimbabwe.
It is also difficult for Zimbabweans to export cigarettes to South Africa because of the high excise duty rates in that country (on tobacco or cigarettes). Most of the brands smuggled from Zimbabwe to the neighbouring country include; Pacific, Remmington gold, Kingsgate, Madison, Mega, Dullahs, Branson, and Servilles.