The assassination attempt on Simon Rudland, co-owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco Company in Johannesburg on 14 August 2019, highlights the ongoing high stakes in the highly lucrative, murky and largely unaccountable tobacco industry.
Simon Rudland, co-owner of Gold Leaf Tobacco Company, which has made the biggest inroads to the South African "cheapie" market, is also a member of the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association. He was wounded in the neck when nine shots were fired from a handgun as he arrived in his car outside the association's offices in Orchards, Johannesburg.
Rudland was accompanied by his lawyer when the "hit" occurred in broad daylight. He was seriously wounded and is in intensive care.
The desperate attempt to eliminate a key executive of Gold Leaf, one of several smaller independent competitors to the tobacco "big boys", comes as no surprise considering the damage the established tobacco industry has exacted in South Africa over decades.
From funding and lobbying political parties and individual politicians to spying on competitors and committed law enforcement officials, to evading tax (the country lost R3-billion in 2017/18 alone) to downright thuggery, the tobacco industry has contaminated almost all levels of society, to say nothing of the lungs...