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Batsa: Armed theft of cigarettes increasing, fueling illicit trade

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British American Tobacco South Africa’s Johnny Moloto said that the alarming increase in criminals targeting their products should be of major concern for authorities.

FILE: Police confiscate illicit cigarettes valued at R122,000 destined for the black market. Image: SAPS

CAPE TOWN – British American Tobacco SA (Batsa) said that there’d been a marked increase in armed robberies of its products.

It adds that the robberies were stoking organised crime and fuelling the illicit trade in cigarettes.

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Since the lifting of the ban on tobacco product sales last year, robberies have soared compared to incidents during the 1st quarter of 2020.

British American Tobacco South Africa’s Johnny Moloto said that the alarming increase in criminals targeting their products should be of major concern for authorities.

During the first quarter of 2020, robbers stole 1,195 cartons of cigarettes each month.

Moloto said that they had no robberies during the tobacco sales ban as no cigarettes were transported over that period.

But he said that when the ban was lifted, on a monthly average, 2,845 cartons of cigarettes were stolen.

In February alone last year, Moloto said that there were four such robberies.

In September, the first full month after the curb was done away with, there were 12.

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He said that there was a year-on-year drop in armed robberies in the two years before 2020, which could be attributed to increased security.

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