Two Zimbabwean nationals, Marshall Masiya(32) and Oswald Raisi (27), were recently sentenced by the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for their involvement in the possession of illicit cigarettes and corruption. The court handed down significant sentences to both individuals, reflecting the seriousness of their crimes.
Masiya was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for illegal immigration, while Raisi received a five-year prison term or a fine of R5 million for the possession of illicit cigarettes valued at R9 million. Additionally, Raisi was given an eight-year prison sentence for his involvement in corruption.
The case against the accused originated from an incident that occurred on 20 May 2023 at the Beitbridge border. SARS officials conducted an inspection of a truck and discovered discrepancies between the declared goods on the accompanying document and the actual load. Suspecting foul play, the officials redirected the truck to the inspection ramp and proceeded to unpack the load.
To their surprise, they uncovered 440 master boxes of illicit cigarettes, with a total value of R9.6 million, cleverly concealed beneath cotton oil cake. Realizing the severity of the situation, Raisi attempted to bribe one of the SARS officials with a gratification of R30,000 in exchange for turning a blind eye to the illegal goods. However, the official promptly reported the incident to the police, resulting in the arrest of both accused individuals.
During the trial, Masiya and Raisi pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them, and the court subsequently found them guilty as charged. In the aggravation of sentence, Advocate Phumudzo Mudau emphasized the prevalence of such serious offenses within the court’s jurisdiction. The accused showed no remorse for their actions, and the substantial value of the illicit cigarettes warranted a strong message to potential offenders through harsher sentences.
The state requested that the court impose a custodial sentence for the corruption charge. As a result, both accused individuals were sentenced accordingly. Furthermore, the court ordered the forfeiture of the Renault truck, two trailers, and 444 master boxes of Remington Gold cigarettes to the state. Additionally, Masiya and Raisi were declared unfit to possess a firearm.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv. Ivy Thenga, welcomed the court’s decision and stated that the sentences would undoubtedly send a powerful message to would-be offenders. She also commended the exceptional work of Adv. Phumudzo Mudau and Adv. Tebogo Mothapo from the Specialised Tax Unit, as well as Sergeant Singo, the investigating officer from the Musina police station.