Contraband cigarettes destroyed

Maputo (AIM) – The Mozambican customs service on Friday incinerated over 600 boxes of contraband cigarettes in the central city of Beira, reports the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”.

The cigarettes were all of the “Pacific Blue” brand, manufactured in Zimbabwe by the company Savanna Tobacco. They were seized by customs at Machipanda, on the border with Zimbabwe, and then driven to Beira for destruction.

The cigarettes were hidden in a tanker truck, and the owners of both truck and cigarettes fled from the scene as soon as the contraband was discovered.

The case was submitted immediately to the customs Tribunal, which ruled that the cigarettes all revert to the Mozambican state. The importers of these cigarettes should have paid 4.2 million meticais (about 56,400 US dollars at current exchange rates), in taxes and customs duties.

Although the owners fled, customs has identified them, and they are being pursued with charges of customs fraud.

The regional coordinator of the public relations office of the Mozambique Tax Authority (AT), Antonio Camacho, when asked why the cigarettes were destroyed instead of selling them off at public auction, explained that this measure was taken in defence of public health, since cigarettes, although legal, are regarded as harmful.

Police patrolled the incineration site, thus ensuring that no attempt could be made to save some of the cigarettes from the flames. – News24

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