According to police the five were nabbed after members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) set up a sting operation based on a tip-off.
Cape Town – Limpopo police arrested a prominent soapie actor and four other people for dealing in illicit cigarettes at a Polokwane taxi rank on Wednesday.
According to provincial police spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke, the five were nabbed after members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) set up a sting operation based on a tip-off.
“Members of the Hawks received a tip-off about suspects who were selling illicit cigarettes at a Polokwane taxi rank. An early morning operation was conducted wherein the five suspects were caught red-handed with the contraband,” Maluleke said.
“The team seized 45 cartoons of Remington Gold cigarettes to the value of R12 000 as well as R9 681 in cash.”
The 44-year-old actor and his four alleged accomplices, who are aged between 38 and 42, are expected to make their first appearance in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court on Thursday for contravention of Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964 and dealing in illicit cigarettes.
The trade in illicit cigarettes is booming since government imposed a ban on the sale of tobacco and vaping products at the start of the country’s lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19. Two separate court cases by major tobacco industry players are challenging the ban.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association is seeking urgent leave to appeal the North Gauteng High Court’s ruling upholding the ban in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile British American Tobacco South Africa also suffered a setback when the date for their case to be heard in the Western Cape High Court was delayed to early August after initially being scheduled for the last week in June.