Truck driver arrested on SA-Botswana border with illicit cigarettes worth R4.8m

A truck driver has been arrested for possession of illicit cigarettes worth more than R4.8m in North West.
A truck driver has been arrested for possession of illicit cigarettes worth more than R4.8m in North West.
Image: 123rf.com/marcbruxelle

Police have arrested a truck driver for possession of illicit cigarettes worth more than R4.8m at the Kopfontein border with Botswana near Zeerust.  

North West police spokesperson Capt Sam Tselanyane said Petrus Toppies, 53, was arrested on Tuesday.

His truck, pulling a trailer, “was entering SA from Zambia via Botswana and ... the driver who was alone in the truck declared that he was transporting liquid molasses for cows”.

Tselanyane added: “Upon further investigation by the customs officials, the driver reportedly disclosed that the middle compartment of the trailer contained illicit cigarettes.

“The resultant search revealed that the trailer’s flank compartments contained liquid molasses while the middle one was filled with 355 cases of Pacific Blue cigarettes to the estimated value of R4,805,200.”

Tselanyane said Toppies was then arrested.

“The driver was immediately arrested and liquid molasses had to be drained out as it is not suitable for use in SA. The truck and cigarettes were ultimately confiscated,” he said. “The case is being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.”

Toppies appeared in Zeerust magistrate’s court on Friday and was remanded in custody. He will appear in court on June 18 for a formal bail application.  

Acting provincial police commissioner Maj-Gen Dintletse Molefe said: “The illicit cigarettes trade affects the economy of the country and the police will deal harshly with those who perpetrate the crime.”

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