The South African Revenue Services. File picture: Ziphozonke Lushaba, Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - A currency bust at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) was the latest in a string of busts which have netted the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs division illicit/illegal goods valued at close to R400 million since 1 January.

The bust last week Tuesday (6 March 2018) was the latest in a total of six currency busts since 1 January with a combined value of over R27 million. In 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. 

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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 by SAPS.

Other highlights of busts since 1 January 2018 include:

  • Narcotics: 122 busts valued at R102,825,888
  • Cigarettes: 27 busts valued at R593,707
  • CITES (incl endangered species such as rhino horns and abalone): 9 busts valued at R13,285,213
  • Viagra / Viagra Generics: 36 busts valued at R5,118,400
  • Counterfeit clothing, footwear and other goods: 320 busts valued at R206,849,590
  • Alcohol: 40 busts valued at R978,470

SARS’s Tactical Intervention Unit, which focuses on particular areas of non-compliance, recorded the following successes in the same period:

  • Illicit cigarettes and tobacco: 45 busts valued at R10 732 767
  • Clothing, textiles and other goods: 23 busts valued at R23,816,086

Some of the other high-profile busts include the following:

  • A special high-visibility joint operation, led by SARS Customs and involving various government agencies, took place in Cape Town on March 1 and 2 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 R30m 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.
  • 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.
  • Crystal Meth with an estimated value of R6,000,000 en route from Rwanda to South Africa seized at OR Tambo International Airport.

- African News Agency (ANA)