Lo­cal cigs ware­house raided

To­bacco ty­coon and Zuma’s friend blames ri­vals af­ter Hawks’ raid

Weekend Witness - - News - CLIVE NDOU

FOR­MER pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s friend and Pi­eter­mar­itzburg to­bacco ty­coon Yusuf Ka­jee has launched a fight­back cam­paign fol­low­ing a Hol­ly­wood-style Hawks raid of a North­dale cig­a­rette stor­age fa­cil­ity linked to his com­pany, Amal­ga­mated To­bacco Man­u­fac­tur­ing (ATM).

Mem­bers of the Hawks, who ar­rived at the premises of one the main dis­trib­u­tors of Ka­jee’s to­bacco prod­ucts in Raisethorp­e on Sun­day af­ter­noon, used bolt cut­ters to open roller-doors be­fore storm­ing into the ware­house.

How­ever, a source fa­mil­iar with the lo­cal to­bacco wars be­lieves that the raid was an unau­tho­rised op­er­a­tion in­sti­gated by Ka­jee’s busi­ness ri­vals.

Ka­jee has had brushes with the law in the past over tax is­sues and the im­por­ta­tion of cig­a­rettes.

“Out of the five peo­ple who raided the premises, only one was able to pro­duce his Hawks iden­tity card and the rest had noth­ing to prove that they were gen­uine Hawks em­ploy­ees.

“In­tim­i­da­tion tac­tics against Ka­jee and his com

Amal­ga­mated To­bacco Man­u­fac­tur­ing (ATM) CEO Yusuf Ka­jee (left) Ka­jee’s PA Im­raan Vally, for­mer SA pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and Ka­jee’s ad­viser, Ibrahim Shaik, dur­ing a meet­ing at the com­pany’s of­fices in Mkon­deni in Septem­ber.

PHOTO: CLIVE NDOU

pa­nies had been used in the past in or­der to try and force him out of the to­bacco busi­ness. We sus­pect that Sun­day’s raid was a con­tin­u­a­tion of the at­tempts to shut down ATM,” the source said.

CCTV footage seen by Week­end Wit­ness shows Hawks mem­bers, who were led by a well-known se­nior Hawks in­ves­ti­ga­tor, rip­ping open card boxes full of cig­a­rettes. A crim­i­nal case has since been opened against the Hawks mem­bers.

“A case of ma­li­cious dam­age to prop­erty was opened at the Moun­tain Rise po­lice sta­tion for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It is al­leged that on 24 Novem­ber, 2019, un­known males forced en­try into the premises on Ex­ec­u­tive Drive by dam­ag­ing the gate,” KZN po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Nqo­bile Gwala said.

While no one was ar­rested and no cig­a­rettes were con­fis­cated dur­ing the raid, ATM said it will leave no stone un­turned in en­sur­ing that a full po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched to es­tab­lish whether the raid had been autho­rised.

“ATM Africa has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this mat­ter sep­a­rate to that of the SAPS to hit back at this il­le­gal and un­law­ful act.

“So far the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed out­side in­ter­fer­ence and as man­age­ment we will be con­sid­er­ing all op­tions on the ta­ble to deal with this mat­ter,” ATM Africa man­ager Neran Ra­mad­hin said.

While Hawks provin­cial spokesper­son Cap­tain Simpiwe Mh­longo said the in­ves­tiga­tive unit did not com­ment on raids where no items were con­fis­cated or in­di­vid­u­als ar­rested, he con­firmed that the se­nior of­fi­cial who led the team that raided the Raisethorp­e to­bacco stor­age fa­cil­i­ties was in­deed a Hawks mem­ber.

ATM, which at one point had Zuma’s son, Ed­ward, as a share­holder in 2011, made head­lines when in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the South African Rev­enue Ser­vices (SARS) swooped into the premises and seized goods and ma­chin­ery be­fore shut­ting the com­pany down. How­ever, SARS later al­lowed the com­pany to re­sume op­er­a­tions.

In Septem­ber Zuma, who de­scribed Ka­jee as a “close friend” dur­ing a visit to the ATM’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Mkon­deni, praised the com­pany’s role in job cre­ation. • clive.ndou@wit­ness.co.za

CCTV footage show­ing mem­bers of the Hawks raid­ing premises linked to the Amal­ga­mated To­bacco Man­u­fac­tur­ing (ATM) in Raisethorp­e on Sun­day.

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