Police in the North East District are fighting a continuous war to try and combat the smuggling of cigarettes from Zimbabwe into the country.
The Assistant Station Commander of Tshesebe Police Station, Ezekiel Melemo, told the Sunday Standard that this month alone, there were two cases in which culprits were found in possession of cigarettes, which were suspected to have been smuggled.
“On the 13th of January this year as our team was patrolling in Moroka Village, they saw a truck unloading boxes at night, and as they tried to approach the vehicle, a gang of culprits bolted and left the scene but the cigarette were confiscated,” he said.
Although Melemo could not say how many boxes were impounded or the value of the cigarettes, the Sunday Standard established that about 300 boxes of cigarettes were found.
Melemo said that while the police were still trying to conduct investigations on the matter, on the 16th of January again this year, another truck driver was arrested after he was ambushed by the police who found loads of boxes of cigarettes in his possession.
However, Melemo, went on to say that most of the culprits who are caught in these scandals are usually Batswana citizens who could be working jointly with Zimbabwean citizens.
“There are many Batswana citizens who indulge in this cigarette smuggling business and we are we suspect that they are working hand in hand with other syndicates from Zimbabwe,” he said.
In an effort to contain this illegal trade, Melemo maintained that they have intensified their border patrols and are working hand in hand with their Zimbabwean colleagues across the border to make sure that the scam comes to an end.
With regard to drug trafficking and other types of crime in the North East District, Melemo maintained that, lately, there has been a decline.
According to some members of the Police, cigarette smuggling into the country is normally undertaken through ungazetted points along the border.