SARS confiscates 39 gold bars, cocaine from passengers

Pretoria, 6  December 2015 – SARS Customs officials at the Oliver Tambo International Airport on Friday evening confiscated 39 gold bars worth R3,3 million found in the hand luggage of two male passengers in the international departure area at the boarding gates.

Acting on intelligence, which included collaboration between airlines, Customs officials requested the two passengers to accompany the officers to the customs common search area for a mandatory inspection.

One of the passengers, a Mozambican national, was en route to Dubai, after arriving earlier from Mozambique. The other passenger was a Pakistani national who lives in South Africa. He did not have a boarding pass, but informed customs officials that he was on his way to Mozambique.

Upon inspection of their hand luggage, officials found the 39 gold bars, weighing 37kg with an estimated value of R18, 7 million in the Mozambican’s hand luggage. Most of the gold bars were wrapped in t-shirts, while others were found in a paper bag in the same carry-on bag.

Upon questioning the suspects, the Mozambican passenger claimed that the gold belongs to the other passenger. According to him, the Pakistani man gave him the bag that contained the gold bars. It is suspected that these passengers bypassed security, probably in collaboration with airline security.

The gold was detained for further investigation under the Customs and Excise Act and the Exchange Control Regulation. Both the suspects were arrested, and their belongings including the 39 gold bars, handed over to the SAPS Organized Crime unit for criminal investigations. They are expected to appear in court tomorrow.

This significant bust follows shortly after Customs officials at King Shaka International Airport bust a passenger attempting to smuggle 5.6kg gold from Dubai into South Africa.

“This was a significant seizure by the SARS customs. Operations of this nature will be conducted on an ongoing basis to eradicate the scourge of smuggling such commodities. Once again our dedicated, determined and disciplined officers have displayed commitment in focusing in all areas of the port of entry to ensure the countering of smuggling of illegal goods,” Sandile Memela, SARS Spokesperson noted.

In another bust on Saturday, also at ORTIA, a South American woman was arrested after trying to smuggle R2million worth of cocaine into the country. Customs officials intercepted her luggage and brought it to Customs for a mandatory inspection, where s scan showed suspicious content in one of her checked-in bags. Upon further inspection two packets of cocaine, wrapped in brown tape, was found inside each of six handbags in her luggage.
The drugs and the women were handed over to the Police for further investigation.

See the pictures here.