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A number of Namibian smokers are struggling to get their hands on cigarette brands produced in South Africa, Business Insider SA reports.

The apparent shortage is unusual considering the fact that South Africa has exported a record number of cigarettes to Nambia over the last few months since the lockdown started.

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Former SARS lawyer and author of 'Dirty Tobacco', Telita Snyckers, doubts whether the SA-made cigarettes reached Namibia at all.

Snyckers believes that the cigarettes have been sold on South Africa's black market.

She says around 66% of South African cigarettes declared for export go missing before reaching their destination, according to SARS data.

RELATED: Here's how even the big tobacco firms are selling cigarettes on the black market

This is because South African authorities have poor enforcement controls, both at production and export stages, Snyckers explains.

In 2019, 210 tonnes (or 210,000 kilograms) of cigarettes that were bound for Namibia from South Africa went missing.

"It's a classic case of diversion", she tells CapeTalk host John Maytham.

In South Africa, we have extremely weak production controls on cigarette manufacturers so we can tell how many cigarette packs they made or trace them back to see if they were made illegally or not. We're extremely weak on export controls.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

I am convinced that those cigarettes have come back to South Africa because the data tells us it's almost certainly what happens.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

SARS has a truck scanner at Beitbridge Border Post. The volumes being smuggled from Zimbabwe reduced dramatically.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

As far as I can see, SARS doesn't have a scanner between South Africa and Namibia which would suggest that that's why Namibia is being chosen.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

The vast majority of smuggled cigarettes are moved in bakkies, pickup trucks, and normal passenger vehicles instead of big trucks.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

The data seems to suggest at least 66% of South African exports never make it to their destination country.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

This vast volume of cigarettes that was supposedly exported to Namibia is almost certainly being sold on the local South African market now.

Telita Snyckers, Author of ‘Dirty Tobacco - Spies, Lies and Mega-Profits'

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Cigarettes supposedly exported to Namibia are being sold on SA's black market'

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