Pretoria, 3 JULY 2015 – SARS Customs officials yesterday discovered 267 kilograms of ivory while conducting inspections at the cargo area at OR Tambo International airport. The ivory which was destined for Vietnam from Zimbabwe is estimated to have a street value of
R4 million, which is one of the biggest interceptions by SARS of smuggled ivory.
During the profiling of shipments, vigilant customs officials noticed a pallet containing numerous plastic shrink wrapped boxes. Further scrutiny of the supporting documents for the consignment revealed that the goods contained inside were declared as ‘handicrafts’ originating from Zimbabwe destined for the Vietnam. The OR Tambo International Airport was being used as a transit point before the final destination to the Far East.
A full inspection of the boxes led to customs officials discovering ivory tusks amongst shredded paper. This shipment was incorrectly cleared as handicrafts and no CITES permits were issued for the consignment, a clear attempt to smuggle the goods.
A case has been opened with the South African Police Service for further investigation.
This is a significant seizure by SARS Customs who implement daily inspections in an effort to foil smuggling of goods. SARS will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to protect the country and its citizens by disrupting organised crime and reducing illicit trade activities.