Four arrested for trade illegal cigarette worth more than R1.5m


Four men have been arrested in the Free State for trading in illegal cigarettes worth more than R1.5 million‚ police said on Friday.

Two men‚ Zafar Iqbal‚ 39‚ and Waqas Muhammed‚ 25‚ were caught in a stop-and-search operation in Bloemfontein by the commercial crime wing of the Hawks‚ according to the police statement.

They were found with five master cases and 45 cartons of illegal cigarettes valued at R50 000. (A master case is bigger than a carton.) The men’s panel van was also seized.

The Iqbal and Muhammed appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Thursday‚ on charges of contravening the Custom and Excise Act. They were released on R7 000 bail each and their case continues on February 8.

Two other men‚ allegedly part of the same syndicate‚ were arrested in Welkom‚ also on Wednesday.

Mohmed Soyeb Mulla‚ 43‚ and Farid Goolam Hoosen Hatia‚ 50‚ were found with 175 master cases and 43 cartons of illegal cigarettes valued at R1.5 million.

They appeared before the Welkom Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and were granted bail of R100 000 and R30 000 bail each on condition that they visit the Welkom police station twice a week. Mulla and Hatia were also ordered to surrender their passports.

They will appear in court on March 18.