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Media statement on the detention of vessels by SARS

Media statement on the detention of vessels by SARS

20 September 2023 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has noted the media report of 17 September 2023 by the Sunday Times concerning the detention of five vessels involved in the fuel bunkering supply chain.

From 2016 SARS has been engaging with the fuel industry to encourage compliance with the legislation concerning the importation, the trading in and other operational activities of vessels engaged in the supply of fuel.

Alongside these engagements, SARS has also been conducting investigations around compliance in fuel bunkering, and the detention of the vessels mentioned in the media article is part of this on-going investigation.

SARS confirms that several vessels were detained in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 91 of 1964. This was done in the normal course of investigating whether the provisions of the Act have been contravened. SARS is of the view that the detention is lawful and, as the investigation is ongoing, no decision to seize such vessels has been taken.

SARS Commissioner Mr Edward Kieswetter said “SARS is obliged to administer the law fairly, without fear, favour or prejudice and to conduct investigations in a responsible manner in accordance with a fair procedure. SARS has no interest in jeopardising economic growth nor of contributing to the problem of unemployment, poverty and inequality.”

The Commissioner implored taxpayers and traders to comply with their tax and Customs obligations. He emphasised that SARS will not hesitate to act firmly and robustly to ensure that non-compliance is hard and costly for those that wilfully and intentionally ignore their obligations. The clarion call to all taxpayers and traders is: “comply or face the consequences”.


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