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.
Sunday 7 October 2018
THOUSANDS MORE ADD THEIR NAME TO THE #TakeBackTheTax CAMPAIGN
Almost 14 000 citizens have now added their names to a campaign calling on Government to act immediately and stop the illegal cigarette trade.
#TakeBackTheTax was launched by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) a few weeks ago.
The campaign calls on authorities to act as a matter of urgency and stop the illegal cigarette trade, as it is costing the country millions of rands.
“Our economy is losing billions of rands because of the illegal cigarette trade. This money could be used to get much needed resources and basic services to citizens,” said spokesman for #TakeBackTheTax, Yusuf Abramjee.
He said the last two weeks has seen a significant increase in the number of names that have been added.
At least 4000 citizens made their submission in the past 14 days.
The submission reads as follows:
“I Implore the South African Revenue Service, the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and law enforcement agencies to act with urgency and take decisive steps in combating the trade of illegal cigarettes. By doing so we will stop the South African economy from losing R7 billion in potential tax revenue every year. I ask that the aforementioned parties conduct thorough investigations into claims of tax evasion by all cigarette manufacturers, to implement and enforce new laws to mitigate the negative impact that illegal cigarettes have on low-income communities.”
Abramjee, who is also an anti-crime activist, said that “it is clear from revelations before the SARS Inquiry that the dramatic growth in illicit trade in the tobacco sector is the result of deliberate and corrupt decisions by the former SARS administration. The new administration which has been in place for more than 7 months, has promised a lot but nothing has been done. Illegal cigarette companies have had a tax enforcement holiday for 4 years now. This national disgrace must end”
“It’s daylight robbery to see cigarettes openly being sold for between R5 and R10. Tax is being evaded. This nonsense must stop,” he said.
Abramjee said this is “tax evasion in its crudest form and the distributors responsible are using ‘multiple invoicing’ techniques as a way to mislead and trick SARS and avoid paying tax and excise duties.”
He appealed to the public to continue to add their names to the submission by visiting www.takebackthetax.org
Follow the campaign on Twitter: @takebackthetax
Abramjee said: “It’s extremely encouraging to see more and more South Africans standing up and taking a stand against this specific type of lawlessness. We urge everyone to do the right thing and join our movement.
“Let’s all become active citizens and let’s tell authorities loud and clear: #TakeBackTheTax
Cell 082 4414 203
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*It’s time for South Africa to Collect its Due from Cigarette Companies and #TakeBackTheTax
Of all the industries one could think of that should be given a pass on their tax obligations, the tobacco industry would be the last.
It is just one of the many scandals of the Zuma years which we are now uncovering through the State Capture and SARS Inquiries.
In June this year, Gene Ravele, former Head of Customs and Tax Enforcement at SARS told the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS that he was instructed by Jonas Makwakwa, right hand man to suspended SARS Commissioner, Tom Moyane, to stop inspecting cigarette factories. That was in 2015.
Ravele was hounded out of SARS shortly afterward and has been harassed ever since by a trumped up criminal prosecution – until this month when all charges were dropped due to a lack of any concrete evidence.
While the innocent Ravele and many other diligent law enforcement officers were being unjustly traumatized by corrupted institutions of State, rogue cigarette companies were building massive businesses and raking in billions and billions of Rands, courtesy of an enforcement holiday provided by the former SARS administration.
In July and August of this year, we were able to scratch the surface of the cost of this corruption.
First, the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) released a research report from IPSOS which exposed the rampant growth of illegal cigarettes selling for a fraction of the tax owed to SARS on each pack.
SARS is owed R17.85 on every pack of 20 cigarettes sold in this country. Yet, a single brand, selling for around R10 per pack, has become the second fastest selling brand in the country and we understand is now on track to be South Africa’s number 1 cigarette brand by the end of this year.
It is possible to buy 20 cigarettes for just R5 per pack – a mere 25c per cigarette, cheaper than anywhere else in the world?
According to IPSOS, these illegal cigarettes are available to buy and are openly displayed in over 100,000 shops in the country, in three out of every four shops in the informal sector. No tax is paid on these cigarettes.
According to IPSOS, they are robbing the South African fiscus of at least R7 billion every year. And that’s a conservative number.
National Treasury has submitted to both Parliament and the SARS Inquiry that their tobacco tax revenues are collapsing.
In August, Chris Axelson, Head of Tax Policy at Treasury, testified to the SARS Commission of Inquiry that Treasury’s tobacco tax collection was down 20 percent in the past year alone.
Furthermore, in August, the Food and Agricultural Workers Union of South Africa, which represents workers in the legal tobacco value chain of factory and farm workers led a 4500 strong march to Treasury to demand that government collect taxes from all cigarette companies.
Their members are losing their jobs to criminal enterprises and they have had enough.
We should all have had enough by now. Payment of tax has been diminished to a mere choice.
Businesses which choose to pay their taxes are at an enormous disadvantage compared to those which do not.
As a result, South Africa is at an enormous disadvantage when it levies taxes and fails to collect them from all who owe them.
It is clear: some cigarette companies are paying their taxes and some are not. That is unacceptable.
This is why I’ve joined the #TakeBackTheTax campaign launched by TISA back in July, as it’s official spokesperson.
TISA’s campaign simply calls on SARS to collect all taxes owed by all operators in the tobacco industry.
Who can argue with that?
Not all players in the industry are supporting the campaign or supporting SARS in its renewed effort to clamp down on this illicit trade.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association, which represents the owners of brands selling below the tax owed to SARS, often for as little as R5 per pack, has attacked the campaign relentlessly in the past couple of months. South Africans should ask “Why”?
But there’s hope.
Under Acting Commissioner Mark Kingon, SARS has already announced the establishment of a new Illicit Economy Team.
“The holiday is over” according to Kingon, and we should all applaud that.
The #TakeBackTheTax campaign is about rallying the public to support SARS and to say to them “Get a move on!”
*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and is the official spokesperson for #TakeBackTheTax
RETAIL CASH CRIME: URGENT PRIORITY FOR GOVERNMENT
More than 20, 000 armed robberies. Over 70, 000 burglaries. And our economy faces violent attacks each day – 55 brazen armed robbery attacks, anything from 10 – 15 armed men with automatic weapons, and about 195 burglaries, every day – all in pursuit of large volumes of cash. When will government and law enforcement consider prioritising retail cash crime?
In September every year, South Africans brace themselves for the annual crime statistics, which may only be figures, but they give us a very real sense of what law enforcement agencies and ordinary civilians are up against. It’s a thought-provoking occasion that affords an opportunity to analyse trends and work out how to reduce risks and the prevalence of retail cash crime and the need to have this crime prioritised.
Cash Connect, South Africa’s leading provider of automated cash management and payment solutions for the retail sector, used the opportunity to host a panel of experts to discuss retail cash crime.
Although showing a marginal downward trend, retail cash crime remains high on the criminal agenda within more than 75 000 non-residential burglaries reported in the past year and 20 000 armed robberies.
Comparing the first 8 months of 2018 to the same period last year, joint CEO of Cash Connect, Richard Phillips, says there has been a 7% increase in armed robberies against the retail sector specifically and mostly for cash. 78% of the victims are SMME’s, large retailers and fuel stations and the target is almost always cash.
Cash Connect’s retail cash management solution “puts the bank in the store” and provides a proven deterrent to cash crime in the retail space, transfers the risk away from the retailer and introduces business efficiencies.
“In the past year attacks against our customers were contained below 2% of our national base and 94% of bombing attacks were successfully defended”
“The stats released last week by Police Minister Bheki Cele showed clear similarities between CIT robberies and retail cash crime, supporting the cash industry’s belief that the syndicates move from one target to the other… they are after cash. These are the same bandits, each with defined roles – from controlling customers and staff, to efficiently getting to the back of the store, finding the cash and getting out in less than 3 minutes”.
In May, a similar Cash Connect think tank focused on cash-in-transit robberies, up from 152 last year to 238 this year, an increase of 57 per cent.
While there has been progress in bringing down cash robberies; with the festive season just months away, the police are bracing themselves as more and more cash goes into circulation.
Participants at today’s solution-driven event included the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane; the SAPS Acting Divisional Commissioner for Visible Policing, Lt-General Sharon Jephta; Abraham Nelson from the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, which represents the interests of manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers; anti-crime activist, Yusuf Abramjee and Reggie Sibiya of the Fuel Retailer Association.
Sibiya said he didn’t think there was a service station in the country that hadn’t been hit.
“They go for the ATM, they go for the shop, and they go for the tills; while people are waiting to fill up with petrol. Sometimes they even hijack customers”.
Abraham Nelson, who once worked for SAPS Crime Intelligence and is now head of CGCSA’s Crime Risk Initiative, calls it a ‘total onslaught’.
“And the increase in violence is a problem. During protests stores get looted… There were 489 robberies at Shoprite over the past year… business needs to invest in the fight against crime”, to quote the Police Minister.
“While a company like Cash Connect has technology – with robust cash vaults that can deter crime in the retail sector – not all retailers take necessary precautions to protect their cash”, says General Jephta. “Police often arrive at a crime scene to find CCTV technology that could help them identifying criminals, not working”.
“Or the cameras are focused on the tills, to prevent cashiers from stealing. Often staff members are also unable to assist in giving us coherent information like a good description of criminals. Nor do they know how to behave at a crime scene. In our country, it’s as important as fire drill. Get your staff trained in robbery drill and crime scene management – it’s an unfortunate reality”.
MEC Nkosi-Malobane, who admits that Gauteng’s crime rate keeps her awake at night, says employees are akin to intelligence agents.
“Your own staff should be your eyes and ears, you need to profile them and do proper vetting. Invest in intelligence. Sixty per cent of criminals come from within. Let us work together to prevent crime before it happens. We don’t want to always be doing reactive policing”.
General Jephta says where there is investment by retailers in measures to deter criminals; there’s usually a reduction in crime.
“Even getting police involved in the design of new shopping centres and retail parks could help make access much harder for criminals. Cash shouldn’t be delivered openly, there needs to be a secure area. You have to limit opportunities for criminals. Don’t cash up at the same time every night, don’t keep cash in the till all day. Don’t establish a routine that can be passed onto criminals”.
Phillips adds that retailers should strongly consider a robust cash vault and cash management solution which can act as an effective deterrent for cash crime.
Abraham Nelson says some shopping centres – have developed sophisticated techniques to manage cash in house.
“It’s deposited into a central vault and goes back into the business, without having to leave the premises. A fully automated system considerably reduces crime”.
But Reggie Sibiya says the cash economy is here to stay.
“In countries like the UK people are moving back to cash. So, let’s find ways to safeguard it”.
There are, says Richard Phillips, plenty of small things retailers can do to improve safety, without spending huge amounts of money.
“A simple approach can make a massive difference. Maintain and keep alarm systems fully functional; make sure your closed-circuit TV recorder isn’t in an obvious place where the criminal can find it… these are professionals, they know what they are doing. It’s illogical not to safeguard footage that could capture criminals. We have the technology, let’s use it”.
Responding to a call by Reggie Sibiya for an integrated system connected to a central crime hub, so alerting the right people as soon as a crime is committed, General Jephta says recent travels abroad have given the police a lot of information about how to streamline operations. She calls it the ‘safer city’ concept which they are planning to introduce in Gauteng and with which they hope to integrate all information under ‘one umbrella’.
“The safer city program will invest more in technology and community intelligence”.
Abramjee is Head of #MakeSASafe and Chief Ambassdor of the Namola/DialDirect Safety App, said crime statistics needs be made available quarterly so that we become aware of trends while they are happening.
“If we know where crime is happening when it is happening, it will allow the business community to mobilise. We need robust solutions to a national crime emergency. Let’s have another one of these crime strategy sessions before the festive season – the major shopping period of the criminal.”
After all, crime does a lot more than traumatise survivors – it acts like a tax on the entire economy and takes away from those who need it most.
ABOUT CASH CONNECT
Cash Connect enables a safe and secure trading environment and empowers retailers with services that create greater efficiency, improve cash flow and offer quick access to capital with which to grow. Established in 2006, our goal is to move businesses from a place of safety to a place of growth.
Cash Connect is one of the largest suppliers of cash to the banking system and boasts in excess of R70 Billion* a year that it manages on behalf of its diversified client base across the country. It is an approved service provider to blue-chip companies including Spar Group, Shell, Engen, Pick ‘n Pay and OK.
The executive management team – led by joint CEOs Steven Heilbron and Richard Phillips – has an unrivalled pool of specialised cash logistics, security and banking experience. The board of directors is chaired by Ivan Epstein, former CEO of Softline and Sage International.
Cash Connect is a private company, with Old Mutual’s specialist fund, Futuregrowth Asset Management, as its largest institutional shareholder.
At Cash Connect, we provide more than just robust cash vaults, we are the key to a successful retail store and strives to make a unique contribution to South Africa’s growing entrepreneurial SMME community – Beyond Safe.
*Annualised 2019 forecast
Idea Engineers on behalf of Sumay Herbst: Cash Connect Management Solutions
Tel: +27 11 010 4300 / 083 286 2799
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org I email@example.com
Web: www.cashconnect.co.za I www.crimestatssouthafrica.co.za
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cashconnectsus
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/cashconnectsus
• You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/cashvaults
• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cash-connect-sa
TISA RAMPS UP #TakeBackTheTax CAMPAIGN AGAINST ILLEGAL CIGARETTES
Monday 17 September 2018
The campaign was launched in July this year, on the back of a report by IPSOS which exposed that illegal cigarettes costing as little as R5 per pack are now available for sale in more than 100,000 shops all across South Africa.
The IPSOS study is the most robust scientific analysis of the multi-billion-rand illegal cigarette market ever carried out in South Africa.
Almost 10,000 South Africans have now signed on to #TakeBackTheTax calling on government to put an end to this criminality and ensure that every cigarette sold in South Africa pays all the taxes owed.
At least R7 Billion in taxes could be recouped in this manner. This is a massive figure and could assist Government with providing basic services to millions of people.
TISA has also announced the appointment of renowned anti-crime activist, Yusuf Abramjee, as the official spokesperson of #TakeBackTheTax saying this is the perfect fit for TISA as he has supported this campaign since it began.
TISA Chairman and CEO, Francois Van Der Merwe said: “TISA is delighted that Yusuf Abramjee has agreed to take on a bigger role in our campaign. He is a long standing and passionate anti-crime activist and his role as spokesperson will help to promote #TakeBackTheTax and rally more South Africans to its cause.”
“This campaign is about saying that all companies who want to manufacture and sell tobacco in South Africa must comply with all of the laws of the land and pay the tax owed on every cigarette,” said Van Der Merwe.
Abramjee himself is thrilled with this appointment, saying he firmly believes that “crime needs to be fought at all levels, and the #TakeBackTheTax Campaign is something he feels strongly about”.
“I’ve supported this campaign from the very beginning and am excited to ramp it up to a new level as its official spokesperson” adds Abramjee.
“The illegal cigarette trade is literally daylight robbery. Traders don’t even try to hide it anymore. Cheap cigarettes for R5 and R10 per pack are boldly displayed and sold in almost every shop and on every table top in the country, ever since the breakdown at SARS over three years ago.”
Abramjee points to specific evidence including a submission made in July by the former Head of Customs and Tax Enforcement at SARS, Gene Ravele, who told the Nugent Inquiry into SARS that the decision to allow the illegal trade in cigarettes to flourish was “planned”.
“After I left [in 2015], there was no inspections at cigarette factories. Until today. When the Minister of Finance complains of the lack of compliance, it was planned,” Ravele was quoted as saying then.
In August, National Treasury testified before the SARS Inquiry that their excise receipts from tobacco have also declined by 20% in the past year alone, largely because of manufacturers not declaring all that they are making and selling.
TISA has also revealed that thousands of jobs have been lost in the legal value chain in the past few years and more are at risk today as a result of the manufacture and sale of these illegal cigarettes.
Abramjee is adamant that everyone can see that this problem is now completely out of control and that Treasury and SARS have seen it in their numbers.
“Critically, the Health Ministry statistics show that smoking rates have stopped declining in South Africa. It is no surprise that this is the case when you can buy a whole pack of cigarettes for R5 – R10 on every street corner” adds Abramjee.
“This now needs to be stopped as a matter of urgency!”
TISA is calling on all law abiding members of public to add their names and make submissions by visiting takebackthetax.org and following @TakeBackTheTax on twitter.
MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday 11 September 2018
RESPONSE TO CRIME STATISTICS
ANTI-CRIME ACTIVIST SAYS SOUTH AFRICA HAS A “NATIONAL CRIME EMERGENCY” AND CALLS FOR PARTNERSHIPS
Head of #MakeSASafe and anti-crime activist, Yusuf Abramjee, says the latest crime statistics “are scary and cause for serious concern.”
He says: “Blood, bullets and bodies have become a way of life for many and we have a national crime emergency.”
Abramjee says the average murder rate of 57 per day shows “we have no respect for life and life has become cheap for many.”
Abramjee said a closer look at all crime categories “shows that we are living in dangerous times. Many parts of our country are under siege and criminals are running amok.”
He said police resources had to be beefed-up and “we need to support our men and women in blue at every turn.”
“Yes, the cops are finding it difficult to cope. That’s why we need to all hold hands and mobilize. We need to fight crime and mobilize communities,” said Abramjee.
“Members of the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) are also being killed in their dozens.
“The CIT robbery figures show an increase year on year of almost 60 percent. We’ve had 258 attacks over twelve months. This is shocking! It’s a real worry. The CIT industry needs to take urgent steps and use technology which is available locally to protect guards and the cash. We also need legislation with minimum standard requirement for measures to protect cash vans.
“I’m happy to see that the latest crime stats have actual breakdowns of kidnappings and attacks on farms and small holdings. These stats were previously not listed,” he said.
Abramjee added: “We have to mobilize. We have to report crime and use technology.
“The Namola/Dial Direct Safety App has over 210 000 downloads and we help hundreds of people each week to #GetHelpFast in an emergency by pressing one button. We appeal to the public to download this app,” said Abramjee who is also Chief Ambassador for the Namola/DialDirect safety app.
He said crimes against women and children “are unacceptably high.
“Robberies, at homes and businesses are, are still very high. A large supermarket chain had almost 500 robberies over a year alone. This is a huge cost to our economy.
“We need interventions at all levels and we need them now,” said Abramjee.
The activist is also a member of Crime Stoppers International (CSI) and he appealed to the public to continue blowing the whistle on crime by calling Crime Stop anonymously on 08600 10111.
He said the annual CSI conference will be taking place in The Hague in early October and “we are going to form global alliances.”
“Don’t protect criminals!”
Abramjee called on authorities to also act against the illicit trade. “This is a growing problem and we must take a stand. For example, the illegal cigarette trade is costing our economy billions of rands. This money can, for example, be used to fight crime and resource the police to Make SA safe. That’s why I am supporting the #TakeBackTheTax campaign.
“Let’s join hands and start reclaiming our streets,” Abramjee said.
Abramjee repeated his call for the crime stats to be released “more regularly so that communities can see trends and mobilize accordingly. They come out too late…”
ENQUIRIES: Yusuf Abramjee, cell 082 4414 203
RELEASE OF BUSINESSMAN OMAR CARRIM
Kidnapped Pretoria businessman Omar Carrim has been released and has been reunited with his family.
He was kidnapped 137 days ago shortly after leaving his business Home Hyper City.
“On behalf of the family, I can confirm the release of Omar Carrim (76). He was released in Olifantsfontein this evening at about 10.30pm,” said anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee.
Carrim has been admitted to an undisclosed hospital where he is getting the required medical attention.
“We appeal for privacy. Let’s give the victim and his family the time and space to recover from the ordeal,” said Abramjee.
The Carrim family has thanked relatives, friends and the community “for all the support and assistance since he disappeared in early August. We are most grateful to everyone and we thank the Almighty for returning our father and brother to us. Thank you for all the prayers and the moral support from the public.”
“We also thank law enforcement agencies,” added Abramjee.
“Omar Carrim and his family will not be commenting any further of this matter for now…We are just grateful
he has been safely returned.”
What’s App Cell 082 4414 203
(UK number: 0044 77 2999 2567)
AUTHORITIES HOT ON THE HEELS OF KIDNAPPERS
Today is Day 86 and Pretoria businessman Omar Carrim is still missing.
Carrim (76) was kidnapped on Aug 3.
“Concerned Muslims of Cape Town” have send out several viral messages saying they know who is behind the kidnappings and have vowed to hunt them down.
They have threatened to expose the culprits.
Cape Town businessman Zhaun Ahmed was kidnapped in July and released after his family apparently paid millions of rands in ransom.
Several other kidnappings have been reported.
Carrim is reportedly not well. Let’s pray for his urgent release.
*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist.