SARS Enforcement and Customs Operations for August 2013
Pretoria, 10 September 2013 – 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 2013.
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 case can be reported for August 2013:
- On 5 August Mr Senzeni Bareng appeared in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court for sentencing, after pleading guilty to 3 counts of fraud on 22 April 2013. This came after Income Tax refunds worth R280 000 due to 3 taxpayers were paid into his bank account after their banking details were changed. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years. He was also ordered by court to pay back SARS R120 322.52 plus interest over a period of five years. He had not withdrawn the rest of the fraudulent refunds from his account when he was arrested.
- On 6 August Ms Thalita Skei – a former SARS employee – pleaded guilty in the Upington Magistrate’s Court to 3 counts of fraud, and was sentenced to a fine of R3000-00 or 18 months imprisonment wholly suspended for five years. She had submitted fraudulent travel plans in order to claim travel and subsistence allowances to which she was not entitled. She resigned from SARS in June 2011 while facing an internal disciplinary hearing.
In the period from 1 to 31 August 2013, SARS Customs teams have:
- Prevented just over 26 kilos of cocaine valued at just over R7.5 million, and just over 35.5kg of tik, valued at R10.6 million, 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 12 different interventions, and included:
- 20.27kg tik, valued at just over R6 million, concealed in 40 brown paper packages in uncollected luggage travelling from Delhi to Johannesburg via Abu Dhabi.
- 13kg tik, valued at R3.9 million, found in unaccompanied luggage off a flight from Dubai to Johannesburg.
- 6.3kg cocaine, valued at just over R1.8 million, concealed in file covers in unaccompanied luggage from Sao Paulo to Hong Kong, transiting through Johannesburg.
- Just over 5kg cocaine, valued at over R1.4 million, in paste form hidden in bottles in the luggage of a male passenger arriving in Johannesburg from Sao Paulo.
- 4.6kg cocaine, valued at just over R1.3 million, concealed in 4 pairs of shoes in the luggage of a female passenger travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg.
- 4kg cocaine, valued at R1.1 million, in unaccompanied luggage arriving in Johannesburg from Sao Paulo.
- 1.76kg cocaine, valued at just over R500 000, in the luggage of a male passenger travelling from Sao Paul to Windhoek via Johannesburg.
- Another 4.6kg cocaine, valued at over R1.3 million, in 4 different seizures where passengers travelling from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg were questioned and then sent for x-rays which revealed they were concealing the drugs in their abdomens.
- Detained 64 master cases and 7 965 cartons of cigarettes, with a total value of almost R2 million which were being smuggled into the country.
- Seized a number of other items coming into the country, including
- 100g Cathinone (a synthetic version of “Khat”, chemically similar to ephedrine), worth R27 500, found in a courier parcel of documents to an address in Cape Town.
- 480 vials of steroids, valued at R48 000, in a courier parcel from China to South Africa.
- 213kg copper, valued at just under R10 000, in two seizures at Beit Bridge where the copper was concealed in vehicles crossing from Zimbabwe into South Africa.
- 22kg dagga, worth almost R33 000, in two seizures from vehicles crossing into South Africa from Swaziland.
- Prevented the following from leaving the country:
- 2 laptops and 2 cellphones, concealed in parcels destined for Sri Lanka which were identified by the Detector Dog Unit and are thought to have been stolen.
- 5 cellphones – confirmed as blacklisted – concealed in a parcel sent to Tanzania.
- 13 cellphones and various cellphone batteries and covers – confirmed to be stolen – found on a passenger in a bus crossing at the Vioolsdrift border post.
- 10 fake credit cards concealed in a parcel marked “gift” en route to Brazil.
- R700 000 in cash found concealed in a South African vehicle crossing at the Ramatlabama border post. The owner claimed that he had changed Euros into Rand, but had no documentation and the agent he named in Johannesburg could not be found. The individual then offered the SARS Customs Officer a bribe. The SARS official reported the attempt and along with the SAPS a “sting” was set up, and the traveller “paid” R20 000 – at which point he was arrested for bribery.
- Almost 40kg dagga, worth almost R62 000, concealed in a number of parcels destined for the UK