South African police have intercepted contraband of cigarettes and a truck all worth R1.5 million believed to have been smuggled into the neighbouring country through the Beitbridge Border Post.
Two immigrants were arrested in connection with the matter on Saturday 25 September 2022, the Chronicle reported.
Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the suspects were arrested along the Tupeyo R71 public road at Dalmada outside Polokwane. He said:
Makhado Crime Intelligence Unit received information from a member of the community about an 8 Ton truck that was driven from Musina by two suspects who were heading to Alberton in Gauteng Province.
An intelligence driven operation was then conducted by Mankweng SAPS, members of the Limpopo Highway Patrol (LHP) team together with the Polokwane police to monitor the truck from the N1 North where the truck was monitored from Makhado until it was stopped and searched at Dalmada area under Polokwane policing area.
Brig Mojapelo said the truck was loaded with 152 boxes of Remington Gold (RG) cigarettes, one of Gold Leaf’s brands.
The suspects, he said, failed to account for the origin of the illicit cigarettes.
He said the truck and the illicit cigarettes valued at R1.5 million were seized during the arrest.
Mojapelo said the suspects aged 39 and 49 would appear in Polokwane Magistrate Court on Monday 26 September 2022.
This was after massive quantities of cigarettes poured across the Limpopo border from Zimbabwe when South Africa banned the sale of cigarettes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
They became freely available on the black market at a fraction of the cost of more established brands such as Marlboro, manufactured by Philip Morris and it is alleged that the treasury lost billions of rands in revenue each month.
RG reportedly became SA’s largest-selling cigarette brand during the COVID-19 lockdowns raising suspicion of underhand dealings.
Gold Leaf says it could not be held responsible for cigarettes legitimately bought in Zimbabwe and smuggled across the border.