Woman fined R20,000 for illicit cigarettes in South Africa

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the herald

crime reporter

A South African magistrate’s court has fined a 34-year-old Zimbabwean woman R20,000 (or 12 months) after she was found guilty of possessing illicit Zimbabwean cigarettes smuggled into the country.

Tatenda Mashaire appeared in a Musina Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

According to media reports, South African Limpopo spokesman for the Hawks, captain Matimba Maluleke, said Mashaire was arrested last month after a tip-off about illicit cigarettes which were kept in a house in the village of Malale in the Tshamutumbu police area.

“On January 21, an undercover operation by members of the Hawks Serious Business Crimes Inquiry in conjunction with criminal intelligence and the South African National Defense Force was carried out, resulting in the arrest of the accused and seizure of boxes containing Remington Gold cigarettes worth R43,684.

“Mashaire, who is a Zimbabwean national, appeared in Musina Magistrates Court and entered into a plea agreement with the state,” Cpt Maluleke said.

She was sentenced to a fine of R40,000 or 24 months imprisonment, half of which suspended for five years on condition that she is not found guilty of a similar offense during the period of suspension .

Last year, two SANDF members were arrested for allegedly transporting illicit cigarettes across the border using a SANDF vehicle.

At the time, Limpopo police spokesman Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the two soldiers were arrested along with a 30-year-old undocumented foreigner.

Brigadier Mojapelo said Beitbridge Police had received information about an army vehicle loaded with illicit cigarettes which were to be delivered to an unidentified buyer around Musina.

“They then reacted by organizing a stop and search operation next to the Baobab Truck Park along the N1 road north of Musina. The army vehicle matching the description approached and members stopped it,” Brigadier Mojapelo said.

The soldiers and a civilian wearing a military jacket got out of the vehicle, which was then searched and 12 boxes of illicit cigarettes were found.

South Africa is the destination of many attempts to smuggle cigarettes from Zimbabwe. Tobacco taxes are much higher in South Africa than less taxed Zimbabwean cigarettes can find a ready market when smuggled into Limpopo.

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