Two Zimbabwean truck drivers, who were arrested last year over the smuggling of contraband cigarettes through Namibia, have been sentenced to a fine of N$108 000 each or 13 years in jail.
The men were arrested on May 6, 2015. They were driving two trucks laden with a consignment of cigarettes valued at N$11.3 million, Namibian newspaper New Erahas reported.
The contraband was said to have been concealed in secret compartments in the trucks, which were designed for the transportation of liquefied natural gas.
During the seizure, which took place while the trucks were en route to South Africa, it was revealed that the trucks contained 1 130 boxes of cigarettes in total.
The personal circumstances of the two men were reported to have been taken into account when sentencing was handed down, with one of the men being diabetic and both having dependents to take care of.
The confiscated cigarettes, along with the trucks, were set to be auctioned off on March 24.
The men remained in police custody and would be released once their fines were paid.
The development comes just two years after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was linked to a cigarette smuggling syndicate in his country.
According to a previous News24 report, the owner of Savanna Tobacco, a prominent company believed to have been moving contraband into South Africa, was married to Mugabe’s niece, leading to speculation that the smuggling could have been a bid to boost the Zimbabwean economy.
Mugabe is alleged to have openly supported Savanna Tobacco in the past, even going as far as accusing British American Tobacco of spying on Savanna and hijacking its trucks.