SARS officials turn down bribes

Friday, October 9, 2015

Pretoria - Two South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials turned down bribes offered to release goods that had been stopped at border posts, the revenue service said on Friday.

“Two SARS officials showed the highest integrity in separate incidents this week, turning down bribes of R100 000 and R10 000 respectively, which were offered to release goods that had been stopped at border posts,” said SARS.

On Tuesday, members of the SARS Tactical Intervention Unit (TIU) and the SAPS in North West arrested a clearing agent based in Benoni for offering a bribe of R100 000 to a TIU officer.

The suspect tried to hand the officer a plastic bag with Simba chips covering R100 000 in cash.

This followed an incident in which a truck loaded with an electrical transformer valued at R9 595 194 was stopped trying to leave South Africa at the Kopfontein border post on Friday, 2 October.

There were discrepancies in the entries and customs officers sent the case for further investigation to the TIU.

The TIU suspected it may be a ghost export transaction valued at R28 302 068 and when the investigating officer contacted the clearing agent, he was offered a bribe.

The revenue service said “ghost exports” are becoming increasingly prevalent in the customs environment, with SARS devoting particular attention to investigating it.

In another incident, on 4 October 2015 a customs officer at Groblersbridge discovered illicit goods valued at around R5 million hidden in two containers filled with molasses from Zambia.

Altogether 11 021 cartons of assorted brands of cigarettes with the total street value of R2 292 386, plus 40 512 tubes of facial creams with a street value of R2 025 600 plus 8 000 contraceptive tablets with a street value of R680 000 were found inside two containers which were on a truck travelling through Botswana from Zambia.

The boxes of cigarettes, facial creams and contraceptives were packed on top of the molasses and were wrapped in plastic bags.

The driver offered a R10 000 bribe to the customs officer to get free passage to South Africa. However, the South African Police Service (SAPS) was informed and the driver was arrested.

The truck was detained and the illicit goods were seized.  

Meanwhile, earlier this week members of the customs detector dog unit at Lebombo border post discovered a number of illicit and suspected counterfeit goods hidden in a taxi and trailer entering South Africa.

The kombi was carrying second hand clothing, shoes, sneakers, liquor, cigarettes, face creams, a rifle silencer and ammunition rounds valued at over R60 000.

Earlier, a Customs officer at the OR Tambo International Airport mail centre discovered 20kg of generic Viagra tablets valued at R4.4 million.

The consignment had come from Hong Kong and was destined for Cape Town. The goods were detained and handed over to Port Health. –

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