Zimbabwean Tobacco Worth US$700k Found In SA Warehouse
25 July 2021Huge quantities of tobacco worth US$700 000 suspected to have been smuggled from Zimbabwe, have been recovered in South Africa. The matter was first reported by a South African publication News24 on Friday, which said South African police found the unprocessed leaf worth 10 million Rand in Eastern Cape. The publication reports that the tobacco is suspected to have come through the Beitbridge border post from Zimbabwe and that East London police made the bust in collaboration with customs officers. South African police have since arrested a 31-year-old male suspect for possession of unprocessed tobacco and bribery. The report comes on the heels of allegations raised by Parliament that the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) is protecting tobacco cartels. Tobacco Industries and Marketing Board (TIMB) Chief Executive Meanwell Gudu recently refuted the smuggling allegations when they were raised in Parliament. He said:
No smuggling will take place as I am the one who signs export permits, it is a deliberate policy that no unprocessed tobacco should be exported before being shredded and removing the stem.Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, Justice Mayor Wadyajena (ZANU PF), who leads the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement insisted that smuggling is happening and blamed the TIMB for allegedly protecting tobacco cartels. Said Wadyajena:
There are companies that are smuggling unprocessed tobacco to South Africa, are you aware of that? There are merchants who have tobacco plants in South Africa what are their names. TIMB you are accused of protecting them at the expense of the national interest of value addition policy.According to the News24 report, 1 279 boxes of both raw and cut rag tobacco were discovered in a warehouse in Eastern Cape.