Duo held in Bloemfontein over alleged cigarette consignment bribe
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Cape Town – Cigarettes allegedly stored and concealed for distribution at a facility in Bloemfontein has led to two suspects being arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) for alleged corruption.
Intiyaz Vahora, 49, from Kuruman, Northern Cape, and Furkan Farukbhai, 25, from Lesotho, were arrested on Thursday after a Hawks officer was allegedly paid R7 000 in order to release the cigarettes, the SAPS said.
An additional R100 000 in cash was allegedly found inside their vehicle. The duo appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Thursday and were remanded in custody pending their next appearance on 18 June.
On Monday, four suspects were approached by Hawks and SA Revenue Service Customs officials at the storage facility in Estoire, Bloemfontein, after information was received that units were "concealing cigarettes for distribution".
"Armed with a search warrant, two suspected rented units were searched. Only one unit was found loaded with a substantial number boxes containing cigarettes. The two units were locked to eliminate tampering," the SAPS said.
"As the members were about to leave, the owner of the units allegedly approached the Hawks investigating officer to assist him to release the cigarette consignment.
"It was also established that the same suspect approached the manager of the storage facility to make the rental contract disappear.
"On Thursday, the Hawks officer met with the suspect and an accomplice and was paid a R70 00 gratification in order to release the cigarettes. The two, Vahora and Farukbhai, were arrested on the spot."
Meanwhile, judgment has been reserved over the ban on the sale of cigarettes. The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria heard that Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma had failed to provide empirical evidence supporting her claims that smokers were more prone to contracting the deadly virus.
Instead, it heard that the ban on cigarettes sales presented an opportunity for the illicit trade of cigarettes as well as underworld activities and that it had also severely affected the collection of tax in the country.