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South Africa: Zimbabwean Man Jailed For R30 Million Illegal Cigarette Possession, Immigration Violation

3 months agoFri, 16 Feb 2024 12:19:01 GMT
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South Africa: Zimbabwean Man Jailed For R30 Million Illegal Cigarette Possession, Immigration Violation

A 27-year-old Zimbabwean man named Moses Matembudze has been sentenced to four years in jail in South Africa for possessing illegal cigarettes worth R30 million. He was also found guilty of contravening the Immigration Act. Matembudze was arrested by the Hawks, a specialized police unit, in February of the previous year, the Chronicle reported.

The arrest and subsequent conviction were confirmed by Hawks spokesperson Lt Col Matimba Maluleke. Matembudze was caught with 48 master cases of Remington Gold cigarettes valued at R480,000. Further investigation led to the discovery of additional boxes of illicit cigarettes worth over R30 million on another nearby farm, resulting in the arrest of more suspects.

The smuggling of cigarettes into South Africa has increased since the country implemented a ban on cigarette sales in 2020 as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19. Smugglers often buy cigarettes from Zimbabwe and avoid paying taxes by selling them on the parallel market. According to Al Jazeera, one prominent figure involved in such activities is Simon Rudland, a Zimbabwean millionaire who owns a major tobacco company called Gold Leaf Tobacco which owns Remington Gold cigarettes. South African revenue officials have accused Rudland of evading taxes by selling his cigarettes on the black market.

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.

While the individuals implicated in these activities, including Simon Rudland, deny their involvement and dismiss the allegations as a smear campaign, investigations are ongoing, and authorities are taking action. Banks have severed ties with the implicated individuals and are cooperating with investigations. Rudland threatened to take legal action against Al Jazeera.

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