Pretoria, 4 September 2015 – Vigilant Customs officials discovered rough diamonds and gold hidden in a traveller’s belongings at the Beitbrdge border post on Wednesday, 2 September.
During an inspection of goods in a truck from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), officials noticed unusual objects in certain of the boxes being transported.
Amongst various malachite artefacts, officials discovered a sealed container which contained different types of rough stones. On further inspection the following precious stones were found:
- 143.35g of suspected gold,
- 63.54g of suspected black diamonds,
- 67.58g of suspected diamonds,
- 173.10g of suspected uncut industrial diamonds,
- 10.36g of suspected clear uncut diamonds and
- 566.87g of suspected industrial diamonds.
The estimated value of all suspected diamonds is R2 263 501 and the estimated value of the suspected gold is R17 497.
The suspected stones were then handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the suspects were taken into custody.
Customs officers also made a number of other busts over the past two weeks:
- At Beitbridge border post R5.075m worth of ephedrine (crystal methamphetamine) was found hidden in a truck driver’s bags on 25 August 2015. During a search of a truck transporting sugar from Malawi, officials discovered two undeclared bags in the driver’s cabin. Inside the bag were shin guards that emitted a strong smell of glue. After opening the shin guards, officials found several small packages containing a white substance. A detector dog indicated the possibility of drugs. A drug test confirmed the substance to be ephedrine. A total of 179 packages weighing 14.5kg to the value of R5 075 000 were sealed and handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS). The suspect was handed over to the SAPS for further questioning.
- At the Ficksburg border post Customs officials discovered 1190kg of cannabis worth a street value of R1.6 million, in a truck attempting to enter the SA border from Lesotho on 26 August.
- On 27 August, a Customs inspector at the ORTIA mail centre discovered three boxes containing 60 000 male sexual enhancement pills, valued at R6m, which had been incorrectly declared and had no permit. The pills, which came from Hong Kong, were handed over to Port Health authorities for further investigation.
- On 28 August 2015, a passenger disembarking from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg was searched in the customs search area. The passenger was then taken for x-rays which showed foreign objects, indicating that the passenger had possibly swallowed drugs. She then passed 38 “bullets” which tested positive for Cocaine, valued at R138 996. The passenger was handed over to SAPS for further investigation and a case was opened for drug smuggling.
- On 31 August 2015, a Corsa van was stopped for a random inspection and searched. A Thai woman – without the required documentation – was found concealed on the floor by the back seat. The case was handed over to the Department of Home Affairs and SAPS for further investigation.
These are major busts by SARS Customs who implement daily inspections at all Ports of Entry in an effort to foil the smuggling of prohibited 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.