#TakeBackTheTax WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY THE INTIMIDATION TACTICS OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS 

MEDIA STATEMENT
Wednesday 28 November 2018
#TakeBackTheTax WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY THE INTIMIDATION TACTICS OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS
#TakeBackTheTax has noted a legal threat by Gold Leaf Tobacco saying “we will not be silenced or intimidated and we will continue to expose the illegal cigarette trade until they pay their taxes or SARS wakes up and shuts them down”
An ISPOS study – commissioned by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) and published yesterday shows that RG (the brand owned by Gold Leaf Tobacco), is the biggest selling brand on the market, selling for R10 a pack which can only mean it is an illegal tax dodging brand.
It is clearly not paying the taxes owed of R17.85 per pack.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Gold Leaf Tobacco can’t sue facts.  If they want to try, we are ready and stand by all of our statements relating to the IPSOS report. Otherwise, Gold Leaf, and other illegal cigarette companies, should stop wasting time with spurious legal threats and pay their taxes like every one else.
And if they do not, SARS should stop fiddling while the economy burns and close them down.
The tax evasion by those implicated in the IPSOS report now means that South Africa is losing at least R8 billion annually in taxes. This is unacceptable and this is illegal.
#TakeBackTheTax will not be intimidated or gagged by Gold Leaf’s legal threats and their ridiculous demand of R50 million from its spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee.
“These types of bullying tactics are unacceptable and we will fight this in court and allow the issue to be tested in a court of law,” said Abramjee.
He added: “#TakeBackTheTax is very eager to see how a court of law will view this flagrant disregard of South Africa’s tax laws.”
ENDS
Enquiries:
Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
#TakeBackTheTax

SOUTH AFRICA LOSING AN EXTRA ONE BILLION RAND TO ILLEGAL CIGARETTES

MEDIA STATEMENT

For Immediate Release

Tuesday
27 November 2018

SOUTH AFRICA LOSING AN EXTRA ONE BILLION RAND TO ILLEGAL CIGARETTES

SOUTH AFRICA is losing an extra R1 billion, now at least R8 billion in total, to illegal cigarette companies who aggressively grew their distribution and sales in the last three months.

The #TakeBackTheTax (TBTT) Campaign called this development, revealed by new research from IPSOS, “a terrible indictment on the SA Revenue Service (SARS)”.

The new IPSOS report, released today, shows that illegal cigarettes have now captured over 42% of the South African informal trade and are available in three out of every four shops in the country.

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, says he is shocked by rapid growth in the illegal cigarette crisis, especially after a promised crackdown by SARS.

“We now have a situation where the biggest selling brand in South Africa, RG, is an illegal brand. That has, apparently, never happened before in any country in the world,” said Abramjee.

#TakeBackTheTax can also reveal that SARS’s failure to act against tax dodging manufacturers has now cost the country yet another billion Rand, with lost tax revenue going from 7 billion Rand to a massive 8 billion Rand.

“This is unacceptable and our biggest worry is that this figure will continue to rise even further – hitting the 10 billion Rand mark, if SARS continues to turn a blind eye to this illegality” said Abramjee.

Abramjee called on SARS to stop playing games with this issue and to actually start acting, as promised.

“If this is a SARS crackdown then the multi-billionaire bosses of the illegal companies must be rolling on the floor laughing.”

Last week, the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) officially announced that RG, South Africa’s biggest cigarette brand, is an illegal cigarette because it is not paying taxes. It is being smuggled in huge quantities into Lesotho and earlier this month the LRA seized 380,000 RGs on their way into Lesotho from South Africa. This was the largest single seizure of the past five years.

Abramjee asked why it’s left to the Lesotho Revenue Authority to take a stand against this fraud and tax evasion in South Africa. “Where is our own SA Revenue Service, and why are they not doing anything?”

Abramjee added that there’s also an added worry around small traders who are now at risk since illegal cigarettes are liable to seizure by SARS.

Abramjee said: “These massive companies, taking in billions of Rands in illegal profits, right under the nose of our law enforcement authorities are getting away scot-free while small traders take all the risk of seizure and closure for selling illegal cigarettes”.

#TakeBackTheTax welcomes the move by some retailers who are now taking action. Supermarket chain, SPAR has bravely decided to remove all illegal cigarettes from their shelves until their makers start paying their taxes.

“This is excellent news, and we call on all other supermarkets and retail stores selling fake cigarettes to be good corporate citizens and desist from doing so immediately” said Abramjee.

“Even the Nugent Commission of Inquiry said that there is no more time to waste – it is high time for SARS to wake up and take the fight to the tobacco companies themselves,” added Abramjee.

#TakeBackTheTax is committed to continuing with this campaign.
Over 22 000 members of the public have already signed a petition calling on authorities to act now and reclaim the billions of Rands in lost tax revenue.

To add your name to the petition go to TakeBackTheTax.org.za
On twitter: @takebackthetax

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
#TakeBackTheTax Spokesperson
082 441 4203
@Abramjee

#TakeBackTheTax WELCOMES THE CONFISCATION OF ILLEGAL CIGARETTES FROM SOUTH AFRICA BY THE LESOTHO REVENUE AUTHORITY (LRA)

MEDIA STATEMENT

For Immediate Release
Monday.

19 November, 2018

#TakeBackTheTax has praised the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) for confiscating 380 000 RG cigarettes from South Africa.

The RG cigarettes, made in South Africa, where they should have paid excise duties, were confiscated at Maseru Bridge. They had evaded both excise due in South Africa and VAT owed to the LRA.

The LRA said in a statement the breakthrough came after “routine checks on compliance of tobacco and tobacco products in Lesotho. This is the biggest single bust on illegal cigarettes in Lesotho in the past five years.”
(See statement by LRA attached)

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, says it’s great to see a clampdown in the neighbouring country of Lesotho, adding “it takes a foreign tax authority to clamp down on illegal products manufactured in South Africa!”

Abramjee said that while “some efforts have been made locally, law enforcement agencies are still doing far too little. Illegal cigarettes are being openly sold in broad daylight.”

It is no secret that illegal cigarettes are being sold virtually on the doorstep of the SARS headquarters and National Treasury in Pretoria.

Over 22 000 members of the public have already signed a petition calling on authorities to act now and reclaim the billions of Rands in lost tax revenue.

Abramjee said: “We again call on authorities to step up their game and act decisively. The illegal cigarette trade is flourishing, and the question must now be asked as to how long we must sit back and watch the lawlessness continue.”

As we approach the budget, “National Treasury will be thinking about increasing taxes once again on law abiding citizens but what is the point when the government doesn’t collect taxes owed from criminals. The illegal manufacturers will be laughing all the way to the bank”

Abramjee, who was recently elected Vice President of Crime Stoppers International (SCI), said while it was a global problem, Southern Africa appears to be a hub for the illicit trade. He has appealed to the public to blow the whistle on those involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of illicit cigarettes.

“While we welcome a few small efforts in South Africa, the ‘big fish’ are getting away scott-free.”

To add your name to the petition go to TakeBackTheTax.org.za
On twitter: @takebackthetax

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson
@Abramjee

Let’s make the world safer, writes Abramjee.

The time has come to mobilize the world against crime.

I have just returned from the 39th annual conference of Crime Stoppers International (CSI) which took place in The Hague, Netherlands.

I was elected Vice-President of the global body and it is indeed an honour and I am humbled.

For the first time, a woman was elected President. Sharon Hanlon from Australia and I have pledged to do our bit to make the world safer.

Crime Stoppers International is a global nonprofit organization representing several regions committed to support law enforcement efforts to prevent and solve crime by mobilizing citizens to anonymously report illegal activity.

Comprised of local CSI programmes in 26 countries, we oversee a sophisticated network for citizens to report crime anonymously.

Our partners include law enforcement, the media, public and non-profit organizations as well as international companies committed in the fight against crime.

During the three-day conference, a variety of issues were covered including the illicit trade, human trafficking and organized crime.

Experts from across the globe addressed delegates. We also signed “The Hague Accord” and pledged to promote global alliances in the fight against crime.

The South African Police Service, (SAPS), was represented by the head of Detective Services, Lt.Gen TC Mosikili and the Head of Crime Stop, Brigadier Attie Lambrecht.
They are also fellow directors on the board of CSI.

South Africa’s Crime Stop gets thousands of anonymous tipoffs annually via the 08600 10111 number. This leads to thousands of arrests and millions of rands of seizures.

The illegal tobacco trade also dominated much of the discussions at the conference.

South Africa was praised for the #TakeBackTheTax initiative. As spokesperson for the campaign, I was delighted to hear the UK Intellectual Property Office saying they wanted to start a similar drive.

The illegal cigarette trade is a global problem and authorities have to do much more to stop the problem. Various speakers highlighted the lack of action in several countries.

As the global authority on anonymous reporting, CSI principal areas of focus are transnational crime and criminal activity linked to illicit trade, human trafficking, environmental and wildlife crime, cybercrime and international fugitives.

Our work includes:
Contributing to the management and sharing of information on transnational crime.
Facilitating cooperation among stakeholders such as international agencies, business, law enforcement and the media.
Enhancing the capacity of law enforcement and media on topics of organized and transnational crime.
The unique tripartite model of law enforcement, media and the community is the basis of Crime Stoppers’ success in mobilizing communities to take greater responsibility for their safety and security.

This tried and tested model is respected and trusted by law enforcement agencies and communities around world.

Every 14 minutes, a crime is solved somewhere in the world thanks to Crime Stoppers.
CSI through its certified regional entities, takes an active role in ensuring that affiliated local and national Crime Stoppers programs comply to prescribed tip management procedures in order to maintain the integrity of the anonymous reporting system.
“Having established a strong presence in North America, Australia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, South Africa, the Caribbean and parts of Central America over the past 40 years, CSI is ramping up its expansion efforts in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America,” says Hanlon.

We are going to be focusing on South East Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and Middle East over the coming years.
CSI has forged strategic partnerships with key international agencies and has become a major actor in facilitating public private cooperation in the fight against crime.

Our unique model has provided us with the experience and expertise to take a leadership role in this space.

Through the coordination of round tables, workshops and forums, we bring policymakers together with law enforcement, business, media and community to have constructive dialogue, share experiences and determine recommendations for enforcement action.
A few years ago, we hosted the first CSI conference on the African continent in Cape Town. We will be bidding next year to host the conference again locally, possibly in 2021.
We have implemented several special projects, in particular in the area of illicit trade in Central America and the Caribbean.

Activities undertaken in these projects include, capacity building workshops of law enforcement agencies; awareness campaigns and facilitation of public private cooperation and partnerships.

Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something about crime. We must break the silence. We must stop protecting criminals. Blow the whistle on them anonymously.

From next Wednesday, I will be the host of a brand new weekly programme on eNCA, Crime Watch. It will be on air at 9,30pm.

We will also feature wanted criminals and I appeal to the public to do the right thing. The show will also provide useful tips.

Crime affects all of us and it’s time for action. Let’s join hands, mobilize.

It’s a war and we are going to win it!

*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and newly elected Vice-President of Crime Stoppers International. He is also Chief Ambassador of the Namola/DialDirect Safety App. Twitter: @abramjee

Photo

(From left) Yusuf Abramjee and Lt.Gen TC Mosikili with CSI President Sharon Hanlon and COO Devrol Dupigny.

The new President of CSI Sharon Hanlon and new Vice President Yusuf Abramjee.

eNCA will launch a new weekly programme on crime in November.

South Africa’s crime rate is a national crisis. With over 50 murders a day, Police Minister Bheki Cele says we are almost on a par with countries at war.

As a news channel, we feel a responsibility to play our part in fighting this war, and that is why we are launching Crimewatch.

Crimewatch is a weekly programme that will be hosted by the passionate anti-crime advocate and vice president of Crime Stoppers International, Yusuf Abramjee.

“I’m excited to host the show. We want to make South Africa safe, and Crimewatch will go a long way to contributing to safer neighbourhoods,” says Yusuf.

Yusuf will use his extensive contacts and relationships with police and security structures to bring our viewers up to date on crime fighting in South Africa.

The programme will include verified footage of actual crime scenes, interviews with crime experts and updates on arrests.

Says Yusuf, “Crimewatch is going to make a difference. We will also feature wanted criminals and missing persons. We want the show to be interactive, and viewers are welcome to share with us.”

Crimewatch will also share tips on how to stay safe and protected in a crime-challenged country.

eNCA Editor-in-Chief Mapi Mhlangu says, “Over many years Yusuf has established himself as one of South Africa’s leading crime journalists and has a deep understanding of our criminal justice system. We’re confident he will use these strengths to broaden the debate over the crime scourge in the country; highlight deficiencies in the system and also give praise when due to the SAPS in their daily battle on the crime frontlines.”

Crimewatch starts on eNCA (DStv Channel 403) on Wednesday, 14 November at 9:30pm.

Released by:
Twanji Kalula
twanji.kalula@etv.co.za
021 481 4779
082 777 1226

Facebook: eNCAnews
Youtube: eNCA
Twitter: @enca
Website: www.enca.com

DStv Channel 403

Abramjee pointed Vice President of global crime fighting organization #CSI

Crime Stoppers International Announces New Board Appointees
CSI appoints new President and Vice President to its global board

The new President of Crime Stoppers International (CSI) Sharon Hanlon and Vice President Yusuf Abramjee. On the left is CEO Rudd Smulders and COO Devrol Dupigny (right)

THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS -At its 39th annual conference, Crime Stoppers International (CSI) announced Sharon Hanlon, Director from Region Five (Australia/New Zealand/South-East Asia) and Yusuf Abramjee, one of the Directors for Region Seven (South Africa) as elected President and Vice President to lead CSI. In the 40 years since Crime Stoppers began, this is the first time a woman has served as president.

CSI President Sharon Hanlon, Adelaide, South Australia
With more than two decades executive experience, Hanlon brings a unique and diverse perspective to the CSI leadership role. She’s led large-scale projects for government agencies and the private sector with a proven track record for contributing to cultural change, business strategy and corporate planning. Hanlon is well-versed in corporate governance thanks to her experience serving as the director for a number of public and private sector boards. She’s served in several Crime Stoppers leadership roles during the last decade and is currently Chair of Crime Stoppers South Australia Inc, Deputy Chairman Crime Stoppers Australia and after two and a half years as a CSI Director, is now President of CSI. Hanlon managed the Public Affairs Division for 10 years at the South Australian Royal Automobile Association on behalf of its 650,000 members. This provided her with significant exposure to working within federated models – both nationally and internationally – and saw her make important contributions to corporate governance, business strategy, public policy development and advocacy.
“CSI is an organization making significant advances through its collaboration with government, media, law enforcement and the general public,” said Hanlon. “As president, I look forward to exploring the exciting opportunities that have presented during the CSI Hague conference from some of our existing partners, but also prospective partners and key stakeholders. We’ve accomplished a great deal in our time, but there is still so much more that we can achieve through innovative partnerships.”
CSI Vice President Yusuf Abramjee, Pretoria, South Africa
Abramjee has been an anti-crime and social activist for many years. He is the Head of #MakeSASafe, Chief Ambassador of the Namola/DialDirect Safety App and Spokesperson for the #TaxBackBack campaign.
As a former teacher, crime reporter, crime editor, news editor, station manager, head of news and media executive, Abramjee has earned multiple awards for his tireless efforts to empower the citizens of South Africa to report criminal behavior, journalism, leadership and community activism.
He received a National Order from the Government of South Africa in 2014. Abramjee’s penchant for engaging the public and exposing criminal activity will help CSI further its goals.
“Fighting crime and creating a safer world has been and will always be close to my heart,” said Abramjee. “I fully understand the importance of communicating, networking, alliances and partnerships and making a difference. I look forward to serving CSI and our delegates in this new leadership role.
I thank CSI directors and members for the confidence they have in me. I am humbled and honoured to be elected Vice President,” Abramjee added.
About CSI
Crime Stoppers International is the global authority on anonymous reporting and is the umbrella organization for approximately 800 certified Crime Stoppers programs operating in 26 different countries across seven geographic regions. Its mission is “to mobilize the world to report information on crime anonymously.” Since its founding in 1976, information provided through the network has led to more than one million arrests and 1.5 million cases solved. The group maintains a co-operation agreement with INTERPOL and has collaborative agreements with organizations such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the CNN Freedom Project (CNN), Airline Ambassadors International (AAI) and the International Police Training Institute (IPTI). For the full conference schedule visit www.CSIWorld.org.