The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance (SATTA) is greatly encouraged by the jailing this month of DP Naik, a director of Oakbay Trading, and a central player in Southern Africa’s illicit tobacco criminal network.
Naik was sentenced to 10 years in jail, thanks to action by the South African Revenue Service, for falsifying export documents and diverting cigarettes back into the South African market without paying excise and duties.
His criminal network was responsible for “exporting” cigarettes to Zambia, when they had in fact been round-tripped and sold illegally in South Africa – enabling Naik to dodge paying customs and excise charges of around R18-million.
This approach is not new, but it is the first time in a long time that we have seen such decisive action against it by SARS – and we are encouraged by it.
The illicit sector, of which Naik is a part, has devastated the South African tobacco market, and illegal sales now far outnumber those sold legally.
We say “thank you” to SARS for acting against Oakbay and his company and hope to see equally decisive action against the other top dogs involved in this criminal activity. Their names are known, their centre of operation is known, and their networks are known.
SARS should keep up the pressure. We are fully behind them in their pursuit of the tax-dodgers and will cooperate in whatever way we can.
We look forward to seeing the illicit networks being dismantled, piece by piece – with their products destroyed, their machines and vehicles confiscated, and their time in jail as lengthy as possible.