BY REX MPHISA
THE South African Police Service (Saps) has arrested three people for illegal possession of 707 620 cartons of cigarettes valued close to R1 million — all of Zimbabwean origin.
The arrest was made during a province-wide operation in which 1 574 people including a 14-year-old girl were netted.
In a statement yesterday, Saps spokesperson Motlafela Mojapelo said 707 620 cartoons of illicit cigarettes, 25 dangerous weapons, 8 180 grammes of dagga, 2 907 grammes of nyaope drugs, 12 firearms, 46 knives and 2 596 520 millimetres of liquor.
“The other two suspects were arrested around Mokopane policing area, for possession of illicit cigarettes worth eight hundred and eighty thousand rand (R880 000), during a sting joint operation by Crime Intelligence and Visible Policing members. A 34-year-old male suspect and his female accomplice aged 25, were found in possession of about 90 large boxes containing illicit cigarettes,” he said.
The arrests were through roadblocks and other co-ordinated patrols in which some illegal immigrants suspected to be from Zimbabwe were also nabbed.
He said 348 crime awareness campaigns were conducted, 2 821 compliance inspections at liquor premises, 23 drug operations, 215 liquor control operations, 86 roadblocks, 152 rural safety operations, 3 983 stop and search, 3 718 VCP, 290 domestic violence incidents attended, 258 protection orders served, 44 shebeens closed, 5 704 blue light patrols, 16 954 vehicles and 33 403 people searched and 1 972 traffic fine tickets issued.
“Among the arrested is a 14-year-old on a charge of perjury after she opened a false case of kidnapping at Tzaneen Police Station on Friday September 25 2020,” he said. The teenager had misinformed the police that she and her friend, a learner at Meridian College in Tzaneen were walking from school when unknown suspects driving in a white panel van grabbed her friend and forced her inside the vehicle.”
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During the lockdown, South Africa banned sales of cigarettes and Zimbabweans took advantage of the embargo to smuggle cigarettes into that country.