SARS destroys illegally imported goods


South African Revenue Service (SARS) customs officials started destroying illegally imported vehicles and clothing valued at over R7 million in Durban, in a bid to clamp down on illegal imports that harm the economy.

According to SARS Customs Executive Patrick Moeng, customs officials destroyed 11 514 bales of clothing and footwear valued at R2.5 million and 57 vehicles valued at R7.1 million since 1 April this year.

The revenue service is now destroying over 13 000 bales of illegally imported clothing valued at R6,75 million and 15 vehicles, valued at R450 000.

“Illegal trade takes place through various mechanisms. This includes smuggling (bringing goods into the country undetected, or exporting them undetected), fraudulent shipment via a third country to take advantage of preferential import duties and falsely declaring goods under tariff headings that do not attract high duties, amongst others,” Moeng said.

Recently, a high-level inter-governmental task team was established between the Department of Trade and Industry, International Trade and Administration Commission (ITAC) and SARS, to tackle illicit trade – with a focus on clothing, textiles, leather and footwear, scrap metals and gold.

SARS, as a member of the task team, works intensively in three key provinces with the highest import volumes in clothing and textiles – Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The impact of illegal imports includes: import duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) due to SARS not paid, a loss to the fiscus; distorting the local economy in the affected value chain; a decline in the country’s ability to manufacture goods locally; job losses, particularly in the manufacturing sector; contravention of intellectual property rights; discouraging local companies to innovate in these sectors; and fuelling corruption.

Moeng said illegal imports pose a health risk for consumers through the availability of under-priced and unregulated cigarettes in conflict with government’s health policy.