Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) says illicit trade in alcohol and cigarettes during the lockdown restrictions has resulted in billions of rands lost in revenue and the mushrooming of criminal syndicates working on the black market to peddle these products.
This has also resulted in the South African Revenue Service saying it has lost over R1.5bn in excise duty as a result of the alcohol and cigarette restrictions implemented last year.
The National Project Manager of Business Leadership SA, Fouché Burgers, says the impact of illicit trade in alcohol and cigarettes has been huge.
Apart from the massive financial losses to the companies operating legally, the big impact has been the job losses with about 6 000 job losses in the alcohol industry alone. “We cannot afford this when we already have record low levels of unemployment,” he says. “The consequences are devastating.
He says that under normal circumstances this black market (illicit trade) in South Africa is between 25% and 28% but during lockdown it went up to 100%. It will take a long time to break down these illegal businesses, and everybody has to play a role – the South African Revenue Service (SARS), South African Police Service (SAPS), business as well as the public.