Police arrest two trying to smuggle cigarettes into SA

Given Mahlalela

Given Mahlalela

A police task team confiscated 1298 cartons of tobacco valued at R169000 and arrested two people for illegally trying to smuggle cigarettes into the country on Saturday night.

The two, a 30-year-old man and his 25-year-old partner, were stopped by police along the Mapinyawuke Road, near Komatipoort, as they were travelling towards Tonga village.

Mpumalanga police's organised crime unit spokesman Captain Leonard Hlathi told Sowetan that members of the police spotted a brown bakkie and pulled it off the road at about 9.30pm.

"Our members searched the vehicle and discovered that it was carrying 1298 cartons of illegal cigarettes that the suspects had just smuggled out of Mozambique," said Hlathi.

The suspects are expected to appear before the Tonga magistrate's court soon.

This particular task team forms part of an operation that is dealing with the illegal smuggling of anything from the country - from stolen vehicles to cigarettes and other items.

"We are not going to fold our arms and allow criminals to turn our country into a dumping place for illegal cigarettes.

"We shall bring anyone to book if they are found in possession of any illegal or stolen items," warned Hlathi.

Ports of entry such as the Swaziland border gates of Mananga and Jeep's Reef as well as the Mozambican border gate of Lebombo will be under constant surveillance, according to Hlathi.

He said criminals steal vehicles in South Africa and illegally cross into either Swaziland or Mozambique where they are sold.

Three weeks ago police recovered three vehicles that had allegedly been stolen in South Africa and were destined for Mozambique, Hlathi added.