Illegal cigarettes manufacturer Gold Leaf Tobacco fails in its attempt to silence anti crime activist Yusuf Abramjee

Friday 8 March 2019

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson and anti-crime activist, Yusuf Abramjee, has won a resounding victory in the North Gauteng High Court as the judge struck the case off the urgent roll with costs.

Abramjee was appearing in court today following an urgent application brought against him by Gold Leaf Tobacco Corp Pty Ltd (GLTC).

GLTC slapped Abramjee with a R50 million lawsuit following his many comments and interviews about the company’s role in the illegal cigarette trade in the country.

The #TakeBackTheTax campaign published research from IPSOS last November which revealed that illegal cigarette brand, RG from Gold Leaf Tobacco, is now the largest cigarette brand in South Africa, despite evading taxes owed to SA on its sales.

Illegal cigarettes are costing South Africa R8 billion annually and selling illegally at a fraction of the cost of law abiding tax paid brands.

Today, Judge Letty Molopa ruled that the matter was not urgent and that this was ‘self created urgency” on the part of GLTC.

Furthermore, the judge ruled that if GLTC wanted to argue urgency, they should have done so in November last year when Abramjee first started discussing the illegal nature of GLTC’s cigarettes.

Abramjee’s attorney, Dario Milo from Webber Wentzel has welcomed this ruling saying justice has been served and that there was no merit for urgency “

“We see this as a significant victory for Yusuf, because had Gold Leaf been successful, Yusuf wouldn’t have been able to speak on this issue“

Abramjee added: “They came after me as a private individual because they thought they could silence, frighten and intimidate me, but I will not be silenced!

“I have always stood for truth and justice and GLTC has a lot to answer for when it comes to the illegal cigarette trade.”

“I will keep speaking out and asking the tough questions and expose the rot within the illicit trade.,” added Abramjee.

Abramjee was appointed as #TakeBackTheTax spokesperson in September last year and has been vocal about GLTC’s activities.

“My comments about Gold Leaf and RG have all been true and very much in the public interest” Abramjee said, adding that research company IPSOS has provided the research on which his comments were based.

Speaking to the media outside the Palace of Justice, Abramjee again called on law enforcement agencies to act with urgency .

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee: cell 082 4414 203
Spokesperson: #TakeBackTheTax

A MONUMENTAL DAY AS 250,000 SOUTH AFRICANS SIGN UP WITH THE DIALDIRECT NAMOLA EMERGENCY APP TO GET HELP FAST.

January 2019
Media release

A MONUMENTAL DAY AS 250,000 SOUTH AFRICANS SIGN UP WITH THE DIALDIRECT NAMOLA EMERGENCY APP TO GET HELP FAST.

South Africa- 250,000 South Africans have signed up to use the Dialdirect Namola emergency app. The app, which went national in September 2017, has assisted just over 20,000 South Africans in real incidents and recently released a brand new feature called Family Safety, which is aimed at providing additional peace of mind when it comes to keeping South Africans safe.

The success of the Dialdirect Namola app can not only be seen in the number of South Africans that have signed up to use it, but also in the types of South Africans that are using it to get assistance in an emergency. Through the Namola Watch network, which allows neighbourhood watch groups and other community response organisations to respond to Dialdirect Namola user emergencies, we have seen hundreds of emergency personnel using the Dialdirect Namola emergency app to get assistance when they have an emergency.

Thobile, a police officer with the South African Police Service in Gauteng has used the Dialdirect Namola app on six different occasions to get assistance. These have included calling an ambulance when he found himself in a shooting and a fire engine when coming across a fire in an informal settlement.

“I use the Dialdirect Namola app as my first choice to call for assistance from other emergency services,” says Thobile. “I must applaud the team for their quick response to my request for help. This app is really amazing.”

Magdel, a patroller and first aider for the Sector 4B Neighbourhood Watch in Kraaifontein in the Western Cape, is a Namola Watch responder for her local CPF but also uses the Dialdirect Namola app to get assistance when she finds herself in emergency situations.

“You never know when you will be in an emergency,” says Magdel. “I am a teacher and a couple of days ago one of my pupils started experiencing pains down the side of his arm and had trouble breathing. I didn’t have my medical pack with me as I was off duty, so I used the app to get an ambulance. They were so fast in their response and followed up frequently to check if the ambulance had arrived and how the pupil was doing.”

“We believe if emergency responders, who have access to other resources to get help in an emergency, choose to use the Dialdirect Namola app to get assistance, it really is the tool of choice when requesting help in any emergency anywhere in South Africa,” says Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance. “If you are one of the 250,000 South Africans who already have the app on their smartphone, make sure that you spread the word to everyone in South Africa about this brilliant app. Together we can make South Africa a safer place to live”

Download the Dialdirect Namola app and Namola Watch FREE, either from the Apple App Store or Google Play, or visit www.namola.com.

Dialdirect Insurance is an authorised FSP 15259
On the 27th of January, 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day celebrated their fifth anniversary at The Linder Auditorium, at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The organisation was established in 2014, to help provide homemade blankets and scarves, to communities in need.

To celebrate the occasion, and pay tribute to the late, former South African President Nelson Mandela, a new World Record was set for the Most People Crocheting Simultaneously. The existing Guinness World Record of 604 people, had been achieved by The Singleton Crafters from Australia in 2017. 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day surpassed this record, with a total of 737 people crocheting together on the day. They crocheted for a total of 27 minutes, each minute representing a year that Mandela had spent in prison.

As the celebrations coincided with the anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the event was called “Mozart for Mandela”, and participants were entertained with music by the composer, with performances by a string quartet and pianist Eliza Kruger, as part of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival. There were also performances by the Jeppe Girls Marimba Band, as well as the Jeppe Pipe Band.

“It was an incredibly inspiring event, attended by people from all backgrounds and all walks of life, which once again demonstrated the South African spirit of Ubuntu”, said the founder of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, Carolyn Steyn. “Not only did it serve as an incentive, encouraging our KnitWits for Madiba to make lots of blankets and scarves for those in need, with a clear and fun goal. It also brought attention to our movement, and helped attract new membership.”

Yase Godlo, Outreach Manager of Mandela Day, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation added, “We are thrilled to again be partnering with the 67 Blankets initiative, which continues to touch so many lives through the sterling work it does to propagate Madiba’s legacy and live his values of compassion and empathy. As they enter their fifth year and fifth world record attempt, we wish the ‘KnitWits’ well as they again set out to make a concrete difference, stitch by stitch.”

The necessary documentation will now be sent through to the Guinness World Records Head Office in London, for the new record will be ratified within the next few weeks.

-ends-

Issued on 28 January 2019

#TakeBackTheTax WELCOMES CONFISCATION OF ILLICIT CIGARETTES

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 4, 2019

#TakeBackTheTax WELCOMES CONFISCATION OF ILLICIT CIGARETTES

#TakeBackTheTax welcomes the confiscation of illegal cigarettes, valued at over R364 000 by the Uppington Border Police & Keimoes SAPS.

The SAPS announced yesterday, that it had conducted a raid at a business premises at Keimoes in the ZF Mcgawu Cluster. There, SAPS members found illegal cigarettes and creams valued at about R364 520 – which they then confiscated.

One person was arrested and is expected to appear in court soon.

#TakeBackTheTax is extremely pleased to see that authorities are slowly starting to act and are removing illegal cigarettes from circulation.

We do however need to see many more such raids being conducted and arrests being made. We call on authorities to act swiftly and consistently in this regard.

Let 2019 be the year where the SAPS and SARS finally support #TakeBackTheTax and act on illegal cigarettes by removing them off the streets and by bringing lost taxes back into SA’s coffers.

R8 billion was lost last year alone, and South Africa cannot afford to lose another cent to the illicit cigarette trade.

Manufacturers who evade paying taxes, rightfully owed to SARS, need also to be brought to book.

#TakeBackTheTax calls on all South Africans to be law abiding citizens- and support #TakeBackTheTax in 2019 by signing the petition at TakeBackTheTax.org.

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
#TakeBackTheTax Spokesperson
What’s app calls on 0824414203
@Abramjee

It’s a war and we are going to win it, writes Yusuf Abramjee

As 2018 draws to a close, we need to reflect on the year that was and look at what needs to be done in 2019 to make South Africa and the world safe.

Unfortunately, criminals continue to run amok and police battle on the frontlines.

Crime levels are increasing and the official statistics released earlier this year showed some dramatic increases, especially in violent crime.

I was humbled to have been elected to the leadership of Crime Stoppers International (CSI) in October. Anonymous tipoffs lead to thousands of arrests annually and we must all make it our moral and civic duty to blow the whistle on crime. An arrest is made every 14 minutes around the world because of a tipoff.

Far too many communities continue to protect criminals. This must change!

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has made some strides but a lot of work lies ahead. It’s good to see Crime Intellegence slowly starting to be effective. This unit virtually fell apart some years ago.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, is often on the ground and he is an active. He is starting to make his mark and we need to support him to ensure we reclaim our streets. He is providing strong political leadership.

Stability appears to be slowly returning to the police under the watch of National Commissioner, Khehla Sithole.

But, a lot of work lies ahead to restore public confidence in our law enforcement agencies. There are still far too many complaints about poor service delivery and below standard detective work.

Crime is going to kill South Africa is we don’t act with speed. Tourism is already hit hard. Citizens are living in fear.

Partnerships need to be strengthened at all levels.
Communities must jack up their activism. We also need to make sure that the national prosecuting authority cleans up its act in 2019.

I was appointed spokesperson for #TakeBackTheTax, an initiative of the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA), a few months ago.

The initiative has been appealing to government to clampdown on the illicit trade. Some R8 billion is lost annually to the economy because of illegal cigarettes. Some products are being sold openly for between R5 and R10 per pack of 20. Minimum taxes payable: R17,85.

While some breakthroughs have been made, the “big fish” are still cashing-in.

Let’s hope that the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and other law enforcement agencies act with urgency.

The Nugent Commission has recommended that special units be re-established especially to stop the illegal cigarette trade.

Billions of rands being lost because of the illicit trade should be used for much needed services to our communities. Policing, for example, also needs more money.

It’s good to see more and more citizens using technology in the fight against crime.

CCTV footage goes viral almost every day showing how brazenly criminals strike.

On my new Crime Watch show on eNCA, we screen a selection of videos each Wednesday evening at 9,30pm.

We also feature missing persons and wanted criminals. The good news is that viewers are starting to come forward with information. We need to all become active citizens.

The Dial Direct/Namola emergency app is fast reaching the milestone 250 000 download mark. Hundreds of people use the app weekly and they “Get Help Fast” in an emergency. It’s a free app! Get it and use it when in trouble.

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) is the largest in South Africa. Under the leadership of Chief David Tembe, they are making good strides.

And Mayor Herman Mashaba is providing political support to fight crime which is great and he has committed his administration to cleaning up the city.

I’m sure we are going to see lots more action over the next twelve months – from reclaiming hijacked buildings to implementing by-laws and stopping the lawlessness on our roads.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, engages communities constantly.

On a provincial level, she supports victims of crime, especially our women and children. This momentum needs to continue.

Let’s make 2019 a year of creating a safer country and a safer world. We need to all join hands and start DOing. It’s time to DO!

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

*Yusuf Abramjee is Vice-President of Crime Stoppers International (CSI). He is also the presenter of Crime Watch on eNCA and the Chief Ambassador for the Dial Direct/Namola Safety App. Twitter: @abramjee

#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

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