The North West AFU granted successful forfeitures to the state


The High Court of South Africa, North West Division granted the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the NPA two forfeiture orders to the state that involve the following assets: a VOLVO heavy load truck and a Tank Clinic LPG tanker trailer that were used to smuggle 482 master cases, 109 half boxes, 21 loose cartoons and 44 loose packets of illicit Chelsea cigarettes from Zimbabwe into South Africa. The cigarettes were found hidden in the gas tanker trailer. The Serious Commercial Crime Investigation Unit of the DPCI received information about the truck that was loaded with illicit cigarettes around the Buffelshoek area, driving on the R500 from the direction of Parys to Fotchville. As a result, an immediate operation to intercept the truck was conducted. The driver was arrested and charged with dealing in and possession of illicit cigarettes, in contravention of the Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964 (the Customs Act) as amended. He was subsequently granted bail but absconded as he failed to appear in court. A warrant of arrest has since been issued. According to the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the cigarettes were a potential loss to the state for over R7 million.

In another separate case, forfeited to the state are: a VOLVO FH Series FH 440 6X4 TT heavy load truck and 2 AFRIT A03 TA trailers that were used to smuggle 1433 master cases of illicit Remington Gold (RG) cigarettes, that were found hidden in 2 trailers and disguised as waste papers in contravention of the Customs and Excise Act, 91 of 1964 (the Customs Act) as amended. Members of SAPS intercepted the truck at the Skilpadshek border post from Botswana en route to South Africa. The truck was noticed parked at the border post and police approached and requested the consignment documents from the driver. Upon inspection of the consignment documents, police became suspicious and searched the truck. During the search, it was found that both trailers were loaded with illicit RG cigarettes that were disguised as waste papers. The truck and two trailers were seized. According to SARS total potential loss to the state in this case was over R20 million. The driver of the truck fled the scene and police are still searching for him. 

In other separate cases on the same day, the North-West Division also granted the AFU three forfeiture orders to a total value of over R12 million. The orders followed a successful collaboration between crime-fighting role players across the border and domestically that led to the recent arrest of suspects and the forfeiture of proceeds of crime to the value of over R12 million. An alert was raised after a Zimbabwean company, purchasing agricultural products from a South African company, realised it had been duped by criminals. In the correspondence between the two companies, criminals intercepted e-mails of the purchasing company and inserted their account details, subsequently diverting funds for the ensuing financial transactions. As a result of this business e-mail compromise, the Zimbabwean company paid more than R26 million into the account of the criminals. The Zimbabwean company reported the matter to law enforcement. The Zimbabwean police contacted their financial intelligence unit (Zimbabwe FIU), who alerted the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) in South Africa about the alleged financial transactions. Zimbabwe FIU requested assistance from the FIC to identify and freeze the bank accounts of the suspects and to assist in the repatriation of the stolen funds.

The FIC identified that the suspects had an account with a bank in South Africa. Through further analysis, the FIC identified that the criminals had accounts at other banks through which they had dissipated their funds. With this information, the FIC issued directives for all the identified banks, to place a hold on the bank accounts which resulted in preservation orders being granted. Following this, the investigation, and Asset Forfeiture Teams of the National Prosecuting Authority’s North-West Province, and Specialised Commercial Crime Unit at North-West, as well as the South African Police Service’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, were able to step in. On 24 April 2024, the High Court in North-West granted the forfeiture orders for more than R12 million. As a result of the joint efforts of all the role players in the crime-fighting value chain, six suspects, two South African citizens and four foreigners, were arrested and charged with theft, fraud, and money laundering. Prompt action saw the accused appearing in the Molopo Magistrate Court also on 24 April 2024 and the case was postponed to 15 May 2024. Both the criminal and financial investigations are ongoing because of the mutual legal assistance between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Rachell Makhari and General Mbotho of the DPCI, share the sentiment that this case is one of those which demonstrates the cooperation and collaboration of law enforcement agencies and Intelligence Units/Centres both nationally and internationally to combat transnational crime.

Kind regards,


Closing Date
Connect with Us