By Lisakhanya Xhamela
CAMBRIDGE– SAPS members in collaboration with Customs officers have arrested a 31-year-old male suspect for possession of unprocessed tobacco and bribery on Wednesday afternoon July 21 in a Thorn Park warehouse, East London.
Preliminary investigation has revealed that the arrest followed after the cargo of unlicensed tobacco was confiscated by officials at the Bait Bridge border from Zimbabwe and destined to East London. It is alleged that customs officers immediately communicated with their counterparts in East London who hurried to the suspected Warehouse in Kleipheuvel Road.
The East London Customs officials were met by Cambridge Rural Safety SAPS members on patrol near the warehouse, and they pounced on the warehouse, which was stacked with numerous boxes of unprocessed tobacco, and arrested the owner of the Tobacco for Possession and illegal activities that occurred inside the alleged rented business premises. Approximately 1, 279 cartons with a total of 200 kilos of raw and cut rag tobacco were discovered during the investigation.
It is further alleged that the suspect attempted to bribe the Customs officials with an undisclosed amount of money in order to evade arrest. The Customs Officials immediately reported the matter to the police who have since confiscated the alleged cash and added another charge of Bribery. The confiscated contraband is estimated at a street value of R10 million.
Major General Zithulele Dladla, Acting Provincial Commissioner, praised the police for working together with Customs officials to make a quick arrest at the crime scene. “It is through teamwork and exchange of information that we will be able to break the criminal network’s backbone. I trust that our detectives will dig more into these despicable activities in order to expose even those who may have been part of the plan and business.” said Major General Dladla.
The arrested suspect is expected to appear in the East London Magistrate’s Court once he is charged for possession of unprocessed tobacco and bribery. The possibility of additional charges cannot be ruled out. The investigation continues.