South African Revenue Services (SARS) is investigating a link between the distribution of illegal cigarettes and cannabis after a raid in Phoenix near Durban. SARS said in a press release on 4 March 2022:
“The bust took place at three residences belonging to a well-known cigarette supplier in Phoenix, Durban. During the search, a total of 2.31 million sticks of cigarettes valued at approximately R3.1-million were detained. The cigarettes were being sold at such a low value that it was clear no excise duties were being paid. A full audit will now be conducted on the goods.
There was also narcotics found at two of the locations, including Mandrax and Cannabis with a street value of approximately R10 000. The drugs have been handed over to the SAPS for further investigation.
SARS says the raid forms part of an ongoing operation to clamp down on illegal cigarette distributors within the KZN region. “The focus of the operation is to ensure that all cigarettes sold within South Africa are compliant and that the correct taxes have been paid. SARS has taken a firm approach in trying to eradicate the illicit tobacco industry in the country and will be continue to conduct Customs and Tax audits on all non-compliant traders and taxpayers”.
SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said “SARS is committed to trade facilitation and growing our country’s economy. It will continue to make it easy and seamless for traders to comply with their legal obligation by providing them with clarity and certainty. Equally, SARS is building its capability to make it hard and costly for those of traders who choose to be non-compliant. This is a warning that we will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that those involved in criminal behaviour are dealt with harshly”.