Durban — SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter has praised the vigilance of customs officers after drugs concealed as artwork was seized at the OR Tambo International Airport.
The drugs, which included crystal meth and fentanyl, were seized at the Ortia last week.
In a statement, Sars said its customs officers seized 23kg of narcotics disguised as moulded artwork, with an estimated street value of R37 million, at the cargo sheds of the Ortia last week.
It said the customs officers were doing inspection rounds when they came across a box headed for New Zealand. The box contained items of moulded artwork, which looked suspicious. The officers used a narcotics test kit and some of the items tested positive for crystal meth, which weighed 10kg.
Sars also said that a test by the SAPS on other items tested positive for fentanyl which weighed 13kg. The narcotics were handed over to the SAPS for further investigation.
Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter praised the vigilance of the customs officers who detected the narcotics.
“Sars customs will spare no effort in stopping the export or import of narcotics or any illegal substance which cause so much pain and hardship for families, particularly the youth,” Kieswetter said.
“Drug smugglers must know that our Customs Division is fully committed to this objective, and will act without fear or favour against those criminals involved in the drugs trade. They must know that they will face the full might of the law.”
Meanwhile, late last year, cocaine worth millions was recovered in three separate incidents in Durban.
In December, police officers at the Durban Harbour seized cocaine worth R151 million.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said that on Monday, December 4, 2023, members were following up on intelligence and monitored a container that was on a vessel from Brazil.
“A multidisciplinary team inspected the container at a cold storage facility and found 433 blocks of cocaine disguised in meat boxes.”
In October, Durban Harbour police officers seized drugs worth R80 million at a warehouse area of the King Shaka International Airport.
Members had been tracking various containers which arrived in the country via the Durban Harbour from Brazil.
“Members tracked a certain container to the Dube TradePort in which 228 blocks of cocaine were seized. The cocaine was found concealed in meat boxes and disguised as such,” Mathe said.
Also in October, R70m worth of cocaine was seized from a container at the Durban Harbour.
SAPS Durban harbour members were monitoring and keeping surveillance on a vessel that was making its way to South Africa from Brazil.
“A multidisciplinary operation was conducted, and 20-litre paint containers were seized. Inside, police found 200 blocks of cocaine worth R70m,” Mathe said.
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