Two foreign nationals sentenced for smuggling cigarettes worth R9m into SA
Polokwane specialised commercial crimes court sentences Zimbabwean nationals who were caught trying to smuggle illegal cigarettes into the country
The Polokwane specialised commercial crimes court has sentenced two Zimbabwean nationals who were caught trying to smuggle illegal cigarettes worth R9m into the country.
Marshall Masiya was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for illegal immigration while his co-accused, Oswald Raisi, was sentenced to eight years for corruption after he tried to bribe the official who discovered the contraband.
The court also found Raisi guilty of possession of the illegal cigarettes. For this he was handed five years in prison or a fine of R5m.
Explaining how the two were caught, Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said in May 2023 that SA Revenue Service (Sars) officials conducted an inspection at the Beitbridge border and noticed the number of goods declared on a document and the load on a truck did not correspond.
“They redirected the truck to the inspection ramp and unpacked the load. They found 440 master boxes of illicit cigarettes worth R9.6m hidden under cotton oil cake.
“Raisi offered the Sars official R30,000 as a gratification to prevent him from inspecting and searching the truck. The official called police officers and the accused were arrested,” she said.
She said the accused pleaded guilty and the court found them guilty as charged.
In aggravation of sentence, prosecutor Phumudzo Mudau submitted that the accused have been convicted of very serious offences that are prevalent within the court’s area of jurisdiction.
Mudau argued the accused were not remorseful, the value of cigarettes was high, and a serious message should be sent to potential offenders by imposing harsh sentences.
The state asked the court to impose a custodial sentence for corruption.
The truck, two trailers and 444 master boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes were forfeited to the state and the accused were declared unfit to possess a firearm.
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