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Court Orders Foreign Nationals to Pay R5 Million or Face Jail Time for Cigarette Smuggling

A recent court ruling, two Zimbabwean individuals attempted to smuggle a whopping R9 million worth of illegal cigarettes into the country. The Polokwane Specialized Commercial Crimes Court convicted them for their actions.

Marshall Masiya, aged 32, received an 18-month prison sentence for illegal immigration. Meanwhile, Oswald Raisi, aged 27, faced a corruption charge and was handed an eight-year prison term. This was due to his attempt to bribe an official who discovered the contraband.

Raisi was also found guilty of possessing illegal cigarettes and was given a choice: five years behind bars or a hefty R5 million fine.

The Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, provided insight into how the two smugglers were apprehended. In May 2023, Sars officials conducted an inspection at the Beitbridge border and noticed a significant discrepancy between the documented quantity of goods and the actual cargo on a truck.

Upon further investigation, they uncovered 440 master boxes of illegal cigarettes valued at R9.6 million hidden under cotton oil cake. When the Sars officer attempted to inspect the truck, Raisi attempted to divert his attention by offering him R30,000 as a bribe. However, the official promptly called the police, leading to Raisi’s arrest.

Following their admission of guilt, the court upheld their convictions, as confirmed by Dzhangi.

Phumudzo Mudau, the prosecution’s representative, argued for stricter punishment due to the seriousness of the crimes committed. The accused individuals demonstrated no remorse for their actions, and the scale of the cigarette smuggling operation was significant. Mudau asserted that imposing harsh penalties would serve as a deterrent to potential future offenders.

The state also called for imprisonment in the case of corruption. Furthermore, the accused were declared unfit to possess a handgun, and the state seized their vehicle, two trailers, and 444 master boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes.

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