Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Botswana used as conduit for counterfeit goods to South Africa

South African police on Friday discovered box loads of fake merchandise of PSL club Kaizer Chiefs ÔÇô believed to have been smuggled into South Africa through Botswana – in a dawn raid on a house in Mondeor, Johannesburg.

South African police believe the goods, including fake replica club jerseys, were transported into the country from China, through the Durban port to Botswana, before being taken to Johannesburg.

The latest bust suggests that Botswana is being used as a backdoor to smuggle counterfeit goods into the huge South African market. Botswana is under preassure from South Africa’s big clothing brands who accuse the country of supporting the sale of brands linked to organized crime.

The Botswana Criminal investigations Department has in the past mounted raids where they confiscated tons of Polo, Nike, Converse and other big international brands after big brand manufacturers accused Botswana of violating and not abiding with the Multilateral International Copyright Treaties that the country is a signatory to.

The raid in South Africa this week now suggests that Botswana is not only a destination of counterfeit goods, but is also a conduit into South Africa. The joint operation in South Africa  including the Gauteng commercial and border units led to the arrest of two foreign nationals, a 30-year-old Algerian man and 39-year-old Moroccan national.

According to the Sowetan newspaper the goods were stored in a garage in a complex not far from the club’s headquarters in Naturena. It is alleged that the goods would later be distributed to other parts of the country to be sold to the public.

The counterfeit goods were neatly wrapped inside plastic bags, some were kept in huge bags, others in black travelling bags while some were in huge white industrial sacks. Police also found a few Barcelona and Argentina national teams T-shirts.

Last year the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (Undoc) launched a global campaign to raise awareness of the $250-billion (R3-trillion) a year illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods.

The newspaper quoted Kaizer Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung applauding the police for their work in cracking the syndicate. Motaung said counterfeit goods affected their revenue as well as the economy of the country.
“We support, participate with the police in identifying fake goods. We have a team that specifically deals with such situations,” he said.

“Our brand Kaizer Chiefs and that of our sponsor Nike are affected by such activities.

“Counterfeit goods affect job creation.”

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