The South African Police Service continues to makes seizures and arrests in connection with the illegal trade in cigarettes.


And the public continues, in no uncertain terms, to have its say on what is certainly a smouldering issue that lights up social media debate whenever it is mentioned.

Cigarettes worth R480 000 found in Musina


On Saturday 1 August the SAPS official Facebook page again announced such a seizure during what it called "COVID-19 compliance operations in and around the Musina policing precinct through roadblocks and stop and searches".

Cigarette-related arrests and seizures light up public opinion

Illicit cigarettes seized at Musina. Photo credit: SAPS


The operation involved, among others, SAPS, traffic authorities and SANDF personal. Among the arrests were six people found with a boot load of illicit cigarettes estimated to be worth around R480 000.


The Facebook post immediately attracted public attention with, at last count, 190 comments and 126 'shares'.

Most public comments are critical of seizures


While some comments were certainly in praise of SAPS members carrying out a designated task, the majority were critical either of SAPS itself or politicians.


In general, the sentiment seemed to be that murder, robbery, rape, state capture and a range of other crimes are more worthy of police time and attention.


"They are failing to arrest people who stole our money, but they [excel at arresting] people who are trying to put a bread on [the] table," was one comment.

Going after 'real criminals' a common theme


"The hat man (presumably a reference to police minister Bheki Cele) must be organising a smoking drink fest," said another.


"Go after real criminals and leave people to smoke," observed a reader of the post.


"State capture caused more issues than cigarettes. Where are those arrests?" commented someone else.


"People [have] never stopped smoking since lockdown. Where are they getting cigarettes? I think government must allow cigarettes to be sold," advised another commentator.

News of arrests and seizures come thick and fast


News of cigarette-related arrests and seizures continue to come thick and fast.


On Thursday, rangers in the Kruger National Park arrested several men who were crossing the border illegally from Mozambique. Among the items in their possession were illegal cigarettes.


In late July, a suspect was arrested trying to enter South African from Botswana with a haul of cigarettes valued at over R4 million.


In June, Limpopo police arrested 22 people and confiscated cigarettes worth more than R2 million.