The Benoni Magistrates’ Court has sentenced a Zimbabwean truck driver Spencer Shoke (33), to 5 years imprisonment or a fine of R20000. This is after he was convicted of diversion of goods worth over R3.5 million. The truck and trailer worth over R 2.5 million were forfeited to the state as well as the goods (raw tobacco). This is after Shoke was arrested on 25 October 2022, by the Flying Squad Unit of the South African Police Service for delivering raw tobacco at Benoni, which was in transit to outside the country.

According to South African Revenue Services regulations, the raw tobacco was to be kept at a customs warehouse in Pretoria, until customs duties of more than R500 000 were paid, or the goods released legally. In court, Shoke pleaded guilty to the charge.

Advocate Tumelo Mokoena asked the court to impose a sentence of 5 years or a fine of triple the value of the goods. However, the magistrate noted that Shoke was the driver of the truck earning 400 US dollars and is a breadwinner, therefore the sentence given was appropriate.

Charges against a South African national Ishmael Bhamjee (37) who was at the warehouse where the raw tobacco was delivered were provisionally withdrawn after Shoke took responsibility for the offence. Criminal investigations are ongoing against the importer.

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