4 Zimbabwean nationals arrested in South Africa

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Authorities in South Africa have apprehended four Zimbabweans, aged between 25 and 45, in the Modjadjiskloof area for the suspected possession of smuggled cigarettes worth R313,050. These arrests are part of the South African government’s efforts to crack down on illegal tobacco trading within its borders.

The quartet, consisting of Kudzai Mungate (40), Eshley Matsorera (45), Oscar Mbazo (25), and Tatenda Samasuku (30), appeared in court at the Modjadjiskloof Magistrate’s Court. The hearing was adjourned to January 23 for a formal bail application.

Colonel Malasela Ledwaba, spokesperson for the Limpopo police, explained that the arrests were made following a tip-off about a white Ford Ranger travelling from Kgapane to Tzaneen. Law enforcement swiftly launched an operation on R36 Politsi Road, tactically approaching and searching the identified vehicle. During the search, authorities discovered 2087 cartons of illicit cigarettes valued at R313,050, leading to the suspects’ apprehension.

In an unexpected turn, while at the scene, a Toyota Hilux arrived with a driver and passenger who attempted to bribe the police officers with a sum of R5,000 in exchange for the release of the two suspects found in possession of the contraband. Consequently, the driver and passenger of the Toyota Hilux were also arrested on bribery charges.

The demand for Zimbabwean tobacco and related products in other countries has resulted in the emergence of well-organized syndicates involved in illegal trade and smuggling of tobacco products across various borders. Exporting cigarettes from Zimbabwe to South Africa is challenging due to the high excise duty rates imposed on tobacco products in the neighbouring country.

Cigarettes are imported into South Africa from Zimbabwe at a rate of approximately R6.21 per 10 cigarettes.

South Africa has become a significant destination and transit point for smuggled cigarettes, often entering through the Beitbridge Border Post or illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River. It is estimated that 30 percent of cigarettes in South Africa, including popular brands, originate from Zimbabwe.

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