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SATTA wants inquiry into links between illicit cigarette traders, politicians

Without giving specific names, the alliance on Wednesday said it was clear that other interests were now at play.

Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance wants government to allow cigarette sales from Monday and is demanding an inquiry into links between illicit traders and high-profile politicians.

Without giving specific names, the alliance on Wednesday said it was clear that other interests were now at play.

It said government's questionable health reasons for the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes paved the way for tobacco bootleggers to make millions of rand during the first phase of the lockdown and they had now been given a blank cheque to make more millions.

SATTA'S Shadrick Sibisi said: “Forty-two percent of the market shares are with the illicit traders of which nothing ever happened to those people. Now they’ve been given a right to do as they wish because already, 90% of the 11 million smokers in South Africa are buying cigarette daily from the thugs.”

SMOKESCREEN

On Tuesday, the Black Tobacco Farmers Association (BTFA) expressed disappointment at government’s move to stand by its decision on the ban of cigarette sales as the country prepares to move to level three lockdown next week.

The organisation claimed that farms were “dying” and so were their livelihoods, complaining that government did not consider the views of many who supported the sale of tobacco products.

BTFA said it was concerned about the 11 million South African smokers who had relied on illicit tobacco during the lockdown.

The association said that government was turning a blind eye to the illicit tobacco market, allowing criminals to flourish while they have been in “hell” since the regulations came into effect.

The group described government's multi-sector consultations ahead of the level downgrade as a "smokescreen", that saying Cabinet had already decided on extending the sale ban.

Additional reporting by Theto Mahlakoana.