BY REX MPHISA
POLICE in South Africa have arrested a 52-year-old man believed to be Zimbabwean for smuggling R30 million worth of Remington Gold cigarettes into the neighbouring country.
The man was arrested on Tuesday night on the outskirts of Polokwane and taken to the town’s airport where 3 000 boxes of cigarettes were recovered from his truck.
“The police received information about a truck transporting a huge consignment of illicit cigarettes which had allegedly crossed through Beitbridge Border Post and heading towards Polokwane,” South African Police Service spokesman for Limpopo province, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said.
“A snap operation composed of the Limpopo provincial tracking team and Crime Intelligence Unit was activated and the truck fitting the description given was spotted along the Dendron/Polokwane Road. It was then intercepted and pulled over at the intersection next to the traffic department,” he said.
The truck was escorted to the nearby Polokwane International Airport where it was searched.
It was found fully loaded with more than 3 000 boxes of Remington Gold illicit cigarettes with an estimated street value of R30 million,” he said.
“The driver was arrested for smuggling and possession of illicit cigarettes and is expected to appear in Polokwane Magistrate Court soon,” Mojapelo said.
Smuggling of cigarettes to South Africa from Zimbabwe has been taking place for years and is believed to be lucrative business for politicians and top businesspeople in both South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The smuggling continues despite the deployment of special forces dedicated to smuggling and border jumping that has increased following the closure of Zimbabwe’s borders to prevent international transmission of COVID-19. Since April 30, 2020, Zimbabwe has kept her borders with neighbouring countries closed.