Security officials at the Beitbridge border post have been applauded for their relentless efforts in busting smugglers following the discovery of a fuel tanker that was filled to the brim with illegal cigarettes.
The fight to keep cigarettes out of South Africa continues
South Africa is divided about the cigarette ban that has been in place since the introduction of the coronavirus-influenced lockdown period.
For months, smokers have had to feed their habit by purchasing cigarettes at inflated prices. Most of these cigarettes, it seems, are smuggled into South Africa from neighbouring countries.
Part of the effort from South Africa’s law enforcement is to ensure that the prohibition of cigarette sales is not manipulated by the black market.
Fuel tanker filled with illegal ciggies caught in Beitbridge
The success of this largely depends on our home security efforts at the border. With freight services reopened for export into other African regions, our borders have seen an increased level of activity, some of which is illicit.
Acting on a hunch, Beitbridge security officials stopped a fuel tanker making its way into South Africa from Zimbabwe.
The security’s first instinct was to open the tanker to observe what was inside. The last thing he expected to see was a tanker filled with boxes containing cartons of illegal cigarettes.
Will South Africa lift the ban on cigarettes?
According to the reporter Rudzani Tshivhase (@RTshivhase on Twitter), the illegal cigarettes were destined for South Africa’s market, where a loose can sell for as much as R8, depending on the brand.
The South African government has remained adamant on its stance on the cigarette ban.
While the opposition, led by the British American Tobacco consortium, has piled up the scientific evidence that speaks in their favour (no link to cigarettes causing deaths related to Covid-19); the government is not taking any chances, considering the fact that a fifth of South Africa’s adult population lives with life-threatening comorbidities.