The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) has called for stronger monitoring of law enforcement officers following the arrest of members of the South African National Defense Force for allegedly transporting illicit cigarettes.
Two Defense Force members were arrested along with a civilian, who is believed to be an illegal immigrant, while driving an army vehicle full of illicit cigarettes set to be delivered to an unidentified buyer in Musina, according to Eyewitness News.
“As an organization, we have long been vocal about corrupt law enforcement agents and officials at our border posts who play a substantial role in the smuggling of illicit cigarettes via our various border posts,” FITA wrote on its website.
“The latest incident, as shocking as it is, affirms our long-held view that the criminal syndicates behind the rampant smuggling of cigarettes into the country can only succeed with the help of corrupt law enforcement agents.
“We call on the various bodies in our criminal justice system responsible for the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of matters such as this to ensure that justice is administered and that the sovereignty and integrity of this country is protected.
“Incidents of this nature undermine our national security and embolden the criminal syndicates responsible for these acts, which, amongst other things, rob our fiscus of billions.
“We also call on all law enforcement agencies to implement stronger measures to monitor the conduct of their members while on duty. The illicit trade in cigarettes and other goods cannot flourish with the aid of corrupt law enforcement agents. We have of late been encouraged by the great work being done by various law enforcement agencies in rooting out the illicit trade in cigarettes, and we hope that they can rid themselves of these rotten apples who are putting a black mark on all these efforts.”