Sars seized R3.7bn in illicit goods last year

18 April 2019 - 19:15 By Naledi Shange
Ephedrine recovered by customs officials in one drug bust at OR Tambo International Airport. The drugs were worth R12m.
Ephedrine recovered by customs officials in one drug bust at OR Tambo International Airport. The drugs were worth R12m.
Image: African News Agency

As the 2018/19 financial year drew to a close, the SA Revenue Service (Sars) on Thursday said it had made significant strides in combating the import and export of illicit goods, saying it had seized items worth almost R3.7bn worth of goods.

The goods included everything from narcotics and cigarettes to endangered species such as abalone and rhino horn, sex enhancement drugs, fake clothing and alcohol.

Sars listed some of its major busts.

In one instance, it seized cannabis oil, with an estimated value of R300m which was en route from Canada to South Africa.

The bust happened at the Durban harbour on January 7 2019.

A month earlier, acetanthranil, which is a mandrax precursor, with an estimated value of R45m was found en route from Hong Kong to South Africa at OR Tambo International Airport.

Viagra pills to the value of R30m were found at OR Tambo International Airport on May 13 2018. The pills had come in from India.

This was the second batch to be discovered as another batch of pills worth just over R24m, also from India, had been found five months earlier.

Other Viagra imports busted by Sars officials had come in from Hong Kong.

Sars custom officials had also intercepted shark fins with an estimated value of around R7.2m which were en route from Brazil via South Africa to Hong Kong, in March.

Abalone, rhino horn as well as foreign currency worth millions was also found during these busts.

In one incident, a South African student was bust with US dollars equivalent to over R9m at OR Tambo International Airport.

The young woman was headed for Hong Kong and was arrested after failing to declare being in possession of the large stash of cash.

"Compared with the same period during the previous financial year [April 2017 to March 2018], the number of busts has increased to 6,828 from 4,840, and the value of the busts has increased to R3,694,742,928 from R2,461,425,369," Sars said.


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