An expert on the illegal tobacco trade believes the cigarettes ban in South Africa has earned criminal syndicates no less than R6 billion so far.
Johann van Loggerenberg, author of Tobacco Wars told the Business Insider that the state earns close to R1 billion per month in taxes on cigarettes.
It has been reported that the illegal trade in the South Africa already results in the fiscus losing over R8 billion a year in tax revenue.
The losses are expected to be even higher with current restrictions as smokers have found a way of accessing cigarettes despite the inflated prices of the illegal cigarettes.
Van Loggerenberg said that if most smokers have still found a way to buy cigarettes in over two months of lockdown, then the state has lost at least R2 billion in revenue.
Furthermore, because illegal cigarette prices are at least triple the normal cost, illicit traders have earned R6 billion from illegal sales since the lockdown began.
Van Loggerenberg said transnational crime syndicates are cashing in on the cigarettes ban in South Africa.
“Just look at brands you can buy now. They’re Mozambican, Angolan. They’re from the DRC. I’ve even seen some from China,” he said.
Meanwhile the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) says cigarettes will not be returning to shelves this week, following social media claims that the ban has been lifted.
We will make the necessary announcement once we are in receipt of the judgment from the Pretoria High Court.
We thank you as always for your continued support throughout this entire period.
— FITA (@fita_sa) June 15, 2020