Africa: The Shadowy World of Big Tobacco - Africa Comes Cheap At the Price

Two new reports reveal how multinational British American Tobacco ran a mass surveillance operation and informant network in South Africa and made questionable payments totalling $600,000 in 10 other African countries.

"Most of our operations were not within the law. We were actually not the law; we were not worried about the law. Most of these operations were without the law."

These are the words of whistle-blower Francois van der Westhuizen who was being interviewed on the BBC's investigative programme Panorama this week about the work carried out by FFS, a Johannesburg-based private security company, for British American Tobacco.

According to BAT, FFS was a company it employed to support South African law enforcement in its effort to root out the trade in illicit tobacco.

Van der Westhuizen tells a different story. "There were no rules... We became part of that world of criminality... Our people broke into people's premises two o'clock in the morning like a thief in the night to place devices [vehicle trackers]."

Interviewed on the same programme, another former FFS employee turned whistle-blower, Pieter Snyders, confirmed that paying bribes, using tracking devices, hiring spies, tapping telephones and watching the trucks of competitors was all in a...

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 110 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.