From: ECR Newswatch (South Africa)
Five million counterfeit cigarettes have gone up in flames at Briardene, north of Durban.
The consignment, which was confiscated at the Durban harbour in 2008, was destroyed today jointly by the Tobacco Institute of SA and SARS.
While their origin is still unknown, the 500 cases – which bore the Phillip Morris trademark – were declared as shoes bound for Sudan.
The Institute’s Francois van der Merwe says counterfeit cigarettes cost the country an estimated R3-billion in unpaid taxes every year.
He says it has taken three years to destroy the contraband as officials had to follow due process.
“The processes took very long – all the legal processes – until we got to the point where we could happily destroy them today and get rid of them and send out a strong message to counterfeiters that you will be caught if you do counterfeit. Our measures are in place, our intelligence is good and we will pick it up and eventually get rid of it – so rather stop doing it.”