The major legal cigarette manufacturers in South Africa have called on the South African Revenue Service and law enforcement agencies to increase their efforts to prevent criminal networks from selling illicit cigarettes, reports Food for Mzansi.
During June, about ZAR17 million ($1.2 million) worth of illicit cigarettes were destroyed, following the destruction of ZAR30 worth of illicit cigarettes at the Beit Bridge border post earlier in the year. In all, 181 million cigarettes valued at ZAR219 million ($15.1 million) have been seized and destroyed so far this year.
Zacharia Motsumi, spokesperson for the South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance, which represents the legal tobacco value chain, said, “We have seen some significant action in recent weeks, but it’s going to take a combined national effort to completely stamp out the illicit traders. We are suffering huge losses because of the illicit cigarette networks, and more action is needed to arrest the perpetrators and destroy their illicit products.
“We need to put a stop to their nefarious activity—it is destroying jobs and also robbing the country of tax revenue. The seizures and confiscations are significant, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. The illicit trade continues to cause massive harm to the economy and punishes farmers, processors and manufacturers who go about their business in a law-abiding way.”