Government agencies destroy illegally imported vehicles

PRETORIA, 8 DECEMER 2020 - A joint government task force will today crush a number of illegally imported second-hand vehicles. This sends a strong message that illegal activities are not tolerated by government, a message that is particularly pertinent as we recognise International Anti-Corruption Day tomorrow (9 December).
The proliferation of second-hand motor vehicles into the country from Europe, Asia and the rest of Africa has become a serious risk to the survival of the legitimate motor vehicle industry in the country. Illegal activities such as smuggling of second-hand vehicles ultimately has negative consequences on the economy of the country.
The Inter-Agency Working Group on the Illicit Trade (IAWG), which includes the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) as well as other law enforcement agencies, started crushing 57 illegally imported vehicles from the first week of November 2020.
These vehicles also pose a safety threat when used within South Africa since they are not manufactured for the local environment and do not go through proper safety processes like roadworthy tests.
The confiscation of these illegally imported second-hand vehicles was due to the following contraventions:
  • Clients had produced fraudulent traveller declaration forms (TRD1s) in order to use the vehicles illegally in South Africa;
  • Some of the vehicles were driven in South Africa with a cloned vehicle registration and licence disc. However, upon verification with the neighbouring countries it was established that the registration belongs to various other vehicles;
  • The vehicles were sold to South African citizens without due clearance and permits being obtained;
  • Refugees residing in South Africa have been purchasing the vehicles from the Bond Stores and registering them in the SACU countries in order to use them in South Africa for an indefinite period.
The importation of second-hand imported vehicles into South Africa is mainly allowed for the purpose of re-sale to foreign countries, with a few exceptions (eg. collectors’ cars). An import permit from the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) is required before the vehicles may be imported into South Africa. However, ITAC does not issue permits for the importation of second-hand vehicles for use on South African roads. In other words, a second-hand vehicle may not be imported and registered locally.
The increased proliferation of second-hand vehicles prompted SARS’ Illicit Trade Unit to increase its enforcement activities in this area in recent years. The enhanced operations resulted in extensive detentions and seizures of illegally imported vehicles, which were eventually forfeited to the state after investigations. In the 2017/18 financial year, there were 77 seizures of illegally imported vehicles, in 2018/19 there were 169 and in 2019/20, the numbers increased to 256, highlighting the renewed clampdown by SARS on this particular area of non-compliance.
Members of the IAWG have reaffirmed their commitment to work jointly to stem the tide of criminality, including the illegal importation of these second-hand vehicles.
“The crushing of the illegally imported vehicles is a warning to those that continue to practice this illegal act. And for unsuspecting buyers, make sure that what you are paying for is legal – otherwise your vehicle could be confiscated by the state,” says SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nomalungelo Gina, says government will stop at nothing when confronting this scourge in order to protect local manufacturing, which contributes more than 7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creates employment.
“Buyers of these vehicles must realise that they are killing jobs and destroying the capacity of our economy to produce prosperity for all citizens. Government is absolutely determined to deal with this blatant disregard of our country’s laws and the safety of road users,” says Gina.

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