Local cigs warehouse raided
Tobacco tycoon and Zuma’s friend blames rivals after Hawks’ raid
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. • email@example.com
CCTV footage showing members of the Hawks raiding premises linked to the Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturing (ATM) in Raisethorpe on Sunday.