The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has seized R400 million worth of illicit goods, including drugs and currency, in South Africa and on its borders and points of entry since the beginning of 2018.
In a statement on Wednesday, the revenue service said a recent currency bust at OR Tambo International Airport was the latest in a string of six currency busts with a combined value of over R27 million.
In last Tuesday’s bust, a South African male about to depart for Dubai was intercepted and taken to the search area where Customs officers scanned his luggage. Currency in US dollars, valued at R4 595 344, was found hidden in sweet containers, milk powder tins and soap boxes under clothing.
The passenger failed to give a valid reason or produce documentary proof of origin for the currency. The currency was detained and the passenger was arrested for smuggling of currency.
SARS said other highlights of busts carried out since 1 January 2018 include 122 narcotics busts valued at R102 825 888; 27 cigarette busts valued at R593 707; 36 Viagra/Viagra generics busts valued at R5 118 400; 40 alcohol busts valued at R978 470; and 320 counterfeit clothing, footwear and other goods busts valued at R206 849 590.
Illicit wildlife products were also seized in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Nine seizures were carried out which were valued at R13 285 213 – they included endangered species such as rhino horns and abalone.
SARS’ Tactical Intervention Unit, which focuses on particular areas of non-compliance, recorded a number of successes. These covered illicit cigarettes and tobacco: 45 busts valued at R10 732 767 were recorded and 23 busts involving clothing, textiles and other goods were valued at R23 816 086.
Some of the other high-profile busts include a special high-visibility joint operation, led by SARS Customs and involving various government agencies, that took place in Cape Town on 1 and 2 March and resulted in 46 busts of goods with a value of R33 229 233.
The biggest bust of the operation was the discovery of uncut crystal methamphetamine (tik) with an estimate value of R30 million stashed in fridges on a truck which arrived in Cape Town from Johannesburg. In the same truck, a large amount of suspected counterfeit clothing was also discovered.
The truck driver was arrested. The operation, under the auspices of Operation Phakisa, also led to the detection of 177 cases of non-compliance, including possible under-valuation, non-declaration of goods, non-permits for import purposes, illegal transporting of abalone and detention of vehicles.
Other seizures include Fentanyl/Oxycodone with an estimated value of R30 000 000 en route from China to South Africa seized at OR Tambo International Airport; ephedrine with an estimated value of R4 200 000 en route from Tanzania to South Africa seized at OR Tambo International Airport; heroin with an estimated value of R3 600 000 en route from Mozambique to South Africa seized at Lebombo Border Post; heroin with an estimated value of R3 188 598 en route from South Africa to Mauritius seized at OR Tambo International Airport; ephedrine with an estimated value of R17 202 000 en route from Kenya to South Africa seized at OR Tambo International Airport; and crystal meth with an estimated value of R6 000 000 en route from Rwanda to South Africa seized at OR Tambo International Airport.