NATIONAL NEWS - Police in Limpopo recovered illicit cigarettes worth over R1 million in the crime-infested town of Musina near the Beitbridge border post at the weekend.
The discovery was made during a joint operation conducted in the Musina policing area on Friday.
Spokesperson for the police in Limpopo Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said police, the South African National Defence Force and traffic officers received information about suspects transporting illicit cigarettes and immediately followed up.
He said a roadblock was set up and attempts were made to stop the vehicles coming from Tshipise in the direction of the N1 in the Vhembe region.
“The four vehicles, a Mazda sedan, Nissan paddle van, Toyota Quantum and a Chrysler SUV, were stopped at different intervals but a Nissan bakkie failed to stop in accordance with the officials’ signal.
“It sped off and turned into a nearby gravel road. A car chase ensued until the driver lost control and hit a fence. The suspects then got out and ran into the bush,” said Mojapelo yesterday.
A Toyota Quantum also did not stop and both the driver and passenger jumped from the moving vehicle and escaped.
“The vehicle hit a pole and came to a halt. A Mazda was seen making a U-turn in an attempt to evade arrest but police gave chase.
“The suspects abandoned the vehicle and also fled into the nearby bush. The last vehicle, the Chrysler, was also abandoned.”
During the search, police discovered the following inside three of the vehicles: 57 boxes with 50 cartons in each box, 87 boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes with 21 cartons and two packets of 20 cigarettes, 15 boxes with 47 cartons and seven packets.
The value of the recovered cigarettes, according to Mojapelo, was estimated at R1.4 million. He said the fourth vehicle (the Chrysler) did not have cigarettes in it, but it was suspected to be stolen.
The origin and destination of the recovered properties would be determined in the ongoing investigation.
Provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo Lieutenant-General Nneke Ledwaba commended the members for their vigilance and commitment, which resulted in the confiscation of the illicit cigarettes and the vehicles.
He urged anyone with information that might lead to the arrest of the suspects to contact Colonel Mamuhoyi on 082-414-6683 or to phone crime stop on 0860010111.