Cape Town - A man who pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle R1.946 million ($156 850) worth of foreign currency out of South Africa was sentenced to six years in jail in the Cape Town regional court on Wednesday.
Muhammad Zakariyya Sheik Aboo, aged 23, was arrested in May 2018 as he tried to board a flight to Dubai from Cape Town International Airport after custom officials searched his luggage and found United States dollars hidden in envelopes, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said in a statement.
Aboo did not have the required permission from the National Treasury for the amount of money he had in his possession.
An investigation by South African Revenue Service (SARS) custom officials at the airport and the South African Reserve Bank led to Aboo being charged with contravening exchange control regulations.
He pleaded guilty to the charges against him and the court sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment, of which four years were suspended for five years on condition that he is not found guilty of breeching the same rules again.
The Asset and Forfeiture Unit (AFU) also obtained a forfeiture order regarding the confiscated cash, which was paid into the SARS bank account.
State prosecutor advocate Margot Jacobs told the court that the offence was a serious one as it depleted the country’s foreign reserves, impacting on the ability to conduct trade and financial transactions with other countries.
“When foreign currency is illicitly transferred out of South Africa, the economy suffers and impacts negatively on growth and ultimately job creation,” Jacobs said.
African News Agency (ANA)