Man bust with illicit cigarettes worth R3.3m handed a five-year jail term
An illicit cigarette smuggler has been jailed for five years after being smoked out in a police undercover operation.
Ismael Adam Bhiku, 29, was sentenced in the Pietermaritzburg regional court this week for illegally importing illicit cigarettes into KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo in 2015.
Hawks spokesperson Capt Simphiwe Mhlongo said Port Shepstone serious organised crime unit members conducted several undercover operations to gather evidence against Bhiku.
“In 2016, an operation was conducted and a search warrant executed at his warehouse in Pietermaritzburg. During the search, 147 master cases of illicit cigarettes to the street value of R1.35m were seized,” said Mhlongo.
“Members continued with their intelligence-driven operation until he was arrested in December 2017. During his arrest, 216 master cases of illicit cigarettes to the street value of R2m were seized. A panel van that was used in the commission of crime was also seized.”
In March, Bhiku was convicted for contravention of the Excise Act and the Tobacco Products Control Act.
The regional court sentenced him to five years in jail on each count on Thursday. The court ordered that the sentences run concurrently. Bhiku will spend three years behind bars after two years of the sentence were suspended.