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.

20 000+ CITIZENS SUPPORT #TakeBackTheTax

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday
29 October 2018

The #TakeBackTheTax campaign has surpassed a significant milestone and is thrilled to announce that over 20 000 citizens have added their names to this important campaign.

#TakeBackTheTax was launched a few months ago and calls on Government, SARS and law enforcement agencies to urgently act and “take immediate steps” to combat the trade of illegal cigarettes.

By acting against illicit cigarette traders, the South African economy could take back at least R7 billion in potential tax revenue every year.

This money could be used to put back into communities, and areas of the SA economy that need it most.

The illicit cigarette trade is a huge problem in South Africa, yet cigarettes that cost as little as R5 remain widely available and are found in almost all informal shops in the country. This is illegal.

It is now clear that South Africans agree that this practice must stop and that Government must #TakeBackTheTax as a matter of urgency.

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, said it’s evident that this campaign has massive support: “I’ve personally visited several shopping centers across the country and spoken to people who have pledged their full support. They are 100% behind us!”

“South Africans are tired of unethical business practices and are now demanding that the relevant authorities #TakeBackTheTax” added Abramjee.

Abramjee has also vowed that this is just the beginning, “We are committed to this campaign and are calling on all South Africans to keep signing their names to this petition so that we can double and triple this number”.

“We will continue to engage with Government and SARS at the highest levels, in an attempt to get them to act. These illicit cigarette traders and manufacturers are acting with impunity and they are literally robbing our country daily”.

Abramjee added that the R7 billion in lost money is only the tip of the iceberg.

“This is money that could be helping the poorest of the poor, money that could be invested in policing, the healthcare system, education, social grants and so much more. Why are we allowing criminal enterprises to rob our people?”

All those law abiding citizens who wish to add their names to the #TakeBackTheTax campaign can visit takebackthetax.org. They can also follow
@takebackthetax on Twitter.

By 9.30am this morning, a total of 21690 people signed the submission.

Abramjee said #TakeBackTheTax cautiously welcomes the announcement by acting SARS commissioner, Mark Kingon, that a special unit was being established to clampdown on the illicit trade.

We believe some 58 cases are currently under investigation.

“We welcome the start of some raids but so far they have not even scratched the surface. It is not small shops that need to be the focus of SARS’ efforts but big wholesalers and the illegal manufacturers themselves. We need sustained operations and we need to stop the illegal tobacco trade.

“We appeal to the public to blow the whistle on the illegal trade. Please contact SARS and pass on information anonymously.”

Abramjee said he remained hopeful that SARS was going to act.

“We want to see sustained operations targeting the big fish, not just small resellers”

At the SARS Inquiry, it became evident that suspended commissioner Tom Moyane, ordered a slow down of operations into the illicit trade.

“The tax holiday for illegal tobacco must end. We need the laws to be implemented. Citizens are calling for this. Instead of increasing taxes, #TakeBackTheTax, the billions that are being evaded,” Abramjee added.

ENDS

Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
#TakeBackTheTax
Cell 082 4414 203
(Please call/text via What’s App)
Twitter: @abramjee
@takebackthetax

Photos:

Caption:

Over 20 000 citizens have signed a #TaxBackTheTax submission calling for urgent action to stop the sale of illegal cigarettes.

NUGENT INQUIRY CONFIRMS ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS OPERATE WITH IMPUNITY

MEDIA RELEASE: NUGENT INQUIRY CONFIRMS ILLEGAL CIGARETTE MAKERS OPERATE WITH IMPUNITY

For Immediate Release

Wednesday
17 October 2018

#TakeBackTheTax welcomes the publication of the Nugent Inquiry report which confirms what it has been telling the public all along – that there is rampant tax evasion in the tobacco industry – as a direct result of Tom Moyane’s devastation of SARS.

In his report, Judge Nugent found: “Measures to counter criminality have been compromised and those who trade illicitly in commodities like tobacco operate with little constraint.”

Testimony after testimony detailed how the suspended SARS commissioner and his acolytes protected illegal cigarette makers in South Africa.

As early as June, former Chief Officer, Gene Ravele, testified that the decline in tax revenue from tobacco was “planned” and that investigators were instructed to stop inspecting cigarette factories.

Last month it was revealed that in 2016, Moyane failed to investigate intelligence that one of his top officials was colluding with a known tobacco smuggler and instead sanctioned the hounding out of SARS of Yousef Denath, the man who had brought the matter to his attention, and Kumaren Moodley, once described as “the last Jedi” in the fight against illicit trade.

The cost of this corruption is clear.

The Nugent Report states “those who trade in illicit tobacco operate with little constraint” and there is a “material and ongoing loss of revenue from tobacco related taxes for want of investigation and vastly diminished regulation of the illicit economy”.

This also follows the release of the IPSOS report in July which exposed that cheap, illegal cigarettes sell for between R5 – R10 in three out of every four informal shops in the country.

The brands are being openly sold and authorities know who the culprits are.

#TakeBackTheTax is demanding an immediate clampdown.

The cost to the fiscus is at least R7 billion a year and possibly much more.

According to #TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee, “we feel vindicated by the findings of the Nugent report and believe there is no better time for new SARS Commissioner, Mark Kingon, to commit to prioritising this matter and dealing with it immediately.

“Kingon has vowed to take action and now that the SARS Inquiry has confirmed that illicit traders continue to operate with impunity, he must end it now.”

Abramjee also called on all South Africans to sign the #TakeBackTheTax petition which calls on Government to act with urgency and clamp down on the trade of illegal cigarettes.

“Over 17 000 people have now signed up, and their voices cannot and should not be ignored. We are now demanding action.

“South Africa needs its money back,” said Abramjee.

Citizens have been urged to continue to support the #TakeBackTheTax campaign by signing their names at takebackthetax.org

ENDS
Enquiries:

Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
#TakeBackTheTax
Cell: 0824414203
Twitter
@abramjee
@takebackthetax

MY CHALLENGE TO THE NATIONAL COUNCIL AGAINST SMOKING

On 8 October, the Executive Director of the National Council Against Smoking (NCAS), Savera Kalideen wrote in the Daily Maverick a column entitled “Increasing Tobacco taxes saves lives and raises revenue.”

Kalideen argues that by increasing tobacco taxes, government will grow its revenue.

Allow me take this opportunity to respond.

Kalideen correctly states that some tobacco companies pay the taxes they owe but most do not and that as a result, tobacco tax revenues are declining.

She argues that the solution to this is to increase tax rates on the few tobacco companies that actually pay up. Really?

Surely a better idea would be for government to rigorously enforce its tax laws against companies which are evading tax and once it does that, then it might make sense to increase the rates.

Before that, a tax increase would be futile, even counterproductive.

The fundamental problem with the NCAS proposal to increase tax rates is that for each of the last three years (including this year), the government has not lifted a finger to tackle illicit trade and related tax evasion in the tobacco industry and criminals have enjoyed an effective tax holiday.

Here are two facts that are undisputable (except by illegal cigarette sellers and their apologists)…

Illegal cigarettes in South Africa are widely available and visible in almost every informal shop in the country, even more so than most legal brands.

They are sold for as little as R5 per pack. R5, Let that sink in. What possible good could a tax rate increase do when 20 cigarettes can be easily bought tax free for R5?

In each of the last three years, the NCAS lobbied government to increase tobacco taxes, on the pretext that they would increase revenue and reduce smoking.

Government did so – above the rate of inflation – and government lost money.

According to Treasury’s testimony before the SARS Inquiry, tobacco excise receipts are down 20% in the past 12 months alone. Government tobacco tax revenue falls every year despite rate increases. And not because people are smoking less but because people are smoking tax free.

Why is this? It’s become painfully clear from the SARS Inquiry that our tax collection agency is thoroughly broken and was likely deliberately broken between 2014 and 2017, partially to protect tobacco smugglers.

In 2016, the former SARS administration established a Tobacco Task Team. That team did not investigate one single tobacco company.

Instead, it focused on suspending a senior anti-illicit tobacco investigator in the organisation and an anti-corruption agent who had received intelligence about a SARS official colluding with a tobacco smuggler. This is a national disgrace!

Clearly, a priority for the country is that government should enforce its tax laws. And specifically, it should re-learn how to enforce its tobacco tax laws. Until it does, there is no sense whatsoever in increasing tax rates.

Its time to stop doing what’s not working and fix the basics.

It certainly appears as if Acting SARS Commissioner, Mark Kingon, wants to crack down on illegal cigarettes.

But so far, nothing has happened. It may be that Tom Moyane’s acolytes retain significant power in SARS. It may be that the institution is so broken it will take more time to fix but until it is working again, tax increases will achieve nothing except more revenue declines – as has been the case in the past few years.

I am the spokesperson for the #TakeBackTheTax campaign, a TISA funded campaign which demands that government take action now against tax evasion in the tobacco industry.

I therefore call on SARS to investigate everyone, including the international players, but crucially, also those companies whose brands are selling on the market for a fraction of the legal minimum tax owed to SARS.

It is more than a little surreal that TISA, a tobacco industry association, must run a petition to force government to enforce its own tobacco tax laws and collect what is owed. But that’s our current reality.

I have a proposition for the NCAS…
I challenge the National Council Against Smoking to throw its support behind the #TakeBackTheTax campaign.

I challenge the NCAS to do the right thing, show leadership and resolve and join the 15,000 citizens that have already petitioned SARS to collect what South Africa is owed from the tobacco industry.

Once they do that, and the illicit cigarette trade in South Africa is reduced to the global average of 10%, I will support NCAS’ call to increase tobacco excise.

*Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson #TakeBackTheTax
Anti-Crime activist
@Abramjee

THOUSANDS MORE ADD THEIR NAME TO THE #TakeBackTheTax CAMPAIGN

MEDIA UPDATE:

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

End

Enquiries:
Yusuf Abramjee
Spokesperson
Cell 082 4414 203
Twitter: @abramjee

*INTERVIEWS: Please what’s app

OVER 10 000 PEOPLE CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE ILLEGAL CIGARETTE TRADE

Monday 24 September 2018

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OVER 10 000 CITIZENS CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO STOP THE ILLEGAL CIGARETTE TRADE

Over 10,000 South Africans have now signed on the #TakeBackTheTax petition, calling on Government to take decisive action in combating the trade of illegal cigarettes.

The people who have added their voice to the call to stop the South African economy from losing at least R7 billion in potential tax revenue every year, are responsible citizens.

They are calling on the authorities to put an end to this criminality and ensure that the full tax rate is paid for every cigarette sold in South Africa.

The campaign was launched by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) in July.

#TakeBackTheTax spokesperson, Yusuf Abramjee said “the response from the public has been excellent so far and we urge South Africans to continue to stand up and take a stand against the illicit trade.”

“The illegal cigarette trade is literally daylight robbery.”

“Traders don’t even try to hide this theft 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,” he said.

A call has been made on government “to act urgently and decisively.”

Abramjee is calling on all law-abiding citizens to make their submission now and says the figure of 10 121 (as of this morning) can definitely be surpassed.

Abramjee said he was happy to see that Government was starting to slowly understand that it is being robbed of billions of Rands: “We urge SARS and the SAPS to start clamping down on the illegal cigarette trade now.”

He added that SARS recently committed to stopping the illicit trade, but went on to add “we now want to see tangible action being taken, as a matter of urgency.”

Abramjee said “all sectors of society should be supporting #TakeBackTheTax. It’s the right thing to do.”

“It’s strange and worrying that some are in fact defending the illicit distribution of cigarettes, and the people behind this illicit trade. I hope they realise that by denouncing this campaign, they are in fact supporting tax evasion and crime.”

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 of being lost today as a result of the manufacture and sale of these illegal cigarettes.

“We call on members of public to speak out and make their submissions by visiting takebackthetax.org and following @TakeBackTheTax on twitter.

“The time has come to #TakeBackTheTax”.

Abramjee added: “We call on Government to plough the money it will recoup back into communities for basic services and other urgent needs.”

ENDS

Enquiries:

Yusuf Abramjee
#TakeBackTheTax Spokesperson

Tel: 0824414203
Twitter: @Abramjee

@TakeBackTheTax

It’s time for South Africa to Collect its Due from Cigarette Companies and #TakeBackTheTax

OPINION PIECE:

*It’s time for South Africa to Collect its Due from Cigarette Companies and #TakeBackTheTax

For almost four years now, cigarette companies have had a tax holiday. That’s the reality.

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