SARS Enforcement and Customs Operations for August 2014

Pretoria, 15 September 2014 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is providing an update to the media and the public on its operations to combat crimes such as smuggling, fraud and abuse of the tax system for the month of August 2014.
 
The aim is to inform the public about the work SARS’ Customs and Enforcement teams do on a daily basis, to provide an indication of the prevalence of tax and customs-related offences in South Africa, and to illustrate the support SARS provides to other law enforcement agencies.

Interventions to combat Fraud and Corruption

SARS will combat any form of corruption, fraud and abuse of the tax system. The following cases can be reported for August 2014:

 

1. On 4 August 2041, Mr Reginald Mthunywa was found guilty in the Johannesburg Regional Court on 59 counts of fraud. A tax practitioner, Mr Mthunywa submitted fraudulent tax returns on behalf of several Johannesburg Metro councillors for the periods 2002 to 2004. The prejudice to SARS amounted to almost R1.3 million. It does not appear that the councillors were aware that fraudulent information had been submitted. Mr Mthunywa is due to appear for sentencing on 4 September 2014.

2. On 26 August 2014 Ms Delphine Damons was convicted in the Welkom Regional Court on eight counts of Fraud. Working as a bookkeeper, she had opened 8 fraudulent bank accounts that enabled her former employer to allegedly register several false VAT vendors and submit false VAT claims to SARS. The resulting prejudice to SARS amounted to over R4.4 million. Ms Damons was sentenced to three years imprisonment suspended for three years on condition that she is not convicted of a similar offence during the period of suspension. She also agreed to testify against her former employer in his ongoing trial.

Customs Interventions

In the period from 1 to 31 August 2014, SARS Customs and Enforcement teams have:

1. Prevented just over 68kg kilos of cocaine (valued at over R19.7 million), just over 2kg ephedrine / crystal methamphetamine (valued at just over R630 000), and 1.3kg heroin (valued at almost R270 000) from entering the country. In all cases, the drugs seized and the individuals involved were handed over to the SAPS for further action. The drugs were seized in a number of different interventions, and included:

a. Just over 16kg cocaine, valued at over R4.6 million, carried by a male passenger transiting through Johannesburg from Sao Paulo to Lagos, concealed in batteries in his luggage

b. 9kg cocaine, valued at almost R2.6 million, carried by a male passenger transiting through Johannesburg from Sao Paulo to Lagos, concealed in containers of deodorant and baby powder.

c. 8kg cocaine, valued at over R2.3 million, carried by a female passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, concealed in handbags in her luggage.

d. 7kg cocaine, valued at just over R2 million, carried by a male passenger transiting through Johannesburg from Sao Paulo to Lagos, concealed in tinned food cans.

e. 6.6kg cocaine, valued at just over R1.9 million, carried by a male passenger traveling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, concealed in tinned fruit cans.

f. 6.27kg cocaine, valued at just over R1.8 million, carried by a male passenger transiting through Johannesburg from Sao Paulo to Kinshasa, concealed in handbags in his luggage.

g. The 2kg ephedrine was found in 4 different parcels, concealed in blouse buttons, shoes and fabric

h. The 1.3kg heroin was concealed in machine parts, football shinpads and packets of ribbon.


2. Seized a number of other items coming into the country, including:


a. 53 243 “male sexual enhancement” tablets, valued at almost R4.3 million. They were found concealed in a sleeping bag in the luggage of a male passenger arriving in Johannesburg from Dubai.

b. 27kg dagga, valued at almost R38 000, carried by individuals crossing into South Africa from Lesotho and Swaziland.

c. Over US$ 1.1 million (over R12.1 million at the time) in cash, carried undeclared by a passenger arriving in Cape Town from Luanda.

d. A parcel from the Netherlands, containing a range of tea, sweets, chocolate, cookies and a carbonated drink – all apparently containing cannabis and hemp.

e. 889 Master Cases and 15 207 Cartons (over 11.9 million individual cigarettes) of illicit cigarettes, valued at over R14.4 million. Brands included Pacific Blue, Remington Gold and GT. The biggest seizures were 884 Master Cases of Pacific Blue found in a container at Durban Port which had been declared as containing Oreo cookies; and 11 596 cartons of Pacific Blue found in a truck which had crossed the border with Botswana at the Groblersbrug Border Post. 

3. Prevented a number of items from leaving the country, including:

a. A parcel from South Africa to Sudan, containing 6 Eritrean passports which had fraudulent South African work permits and were stamped with a fraudulent OR Tambo International Airport Immigration stamp. They were handed over to Immigration for further investigation.
b. 740kg of dried abalone, valued at R2.96 million, destined for Hong Kong, which was identified during a routine search by the Customs Detector Dog Unit at Cape Town International Airport.
c. Almost 78kg dagga, valued at over R108 000, mainly destined for the UK.