Are we really this desperate to smuggle cash out of SA?
Never mind drug busts, SARS is catching more and more people trying to sneak wads of cash past the border
In the past 12 months the SA Revenue Service stopped close to R90.8m in cash from being smuggled out of the country. This, together with huge drug busts, has dealt smugglers a costly blow – yet no stats are readily available of the conviction rate.
SARS spokesperson Sicelo Mkosi said they have seen an increase in people trying to move money out of SA illegally.
“In general SARS has been successful in intercepting and detaining the goods where necessary. Once the interception has been made suspects are handed over to the police who in turn arrest and continue with the criminal investigation,” Mkosi said. The prosecution and conviction are then handled by the courts.In the past month alone, SARS customs seized the following at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg:
Currency (US dollars) valued at R6.1m.
Cocaine valued at R4.8m.
Currency (US dollars) valued at R3m.
Ephedrine valued at R2.6m.
Cocaine valued at R750,000.
Sexual enhancement tablets valued at R300,000.
Cocaine valued at R285,000.
Crystal meth (tik) valued at R240,000.
Cocaine valued at R150,000.
In addition, tik valued at R300,000 was seized at the Durban mail depot.
Huge amounts of money seem to be leaving or entering the borders of SA illegally. In the past 12 months SARS confiscated currency valued at approximately R90.8m, which passengers tried to smuggle out.
Between April and July this year alone, SARS was able to stop currency valued at approximately R23.4m from leaving or entering SA illegally.The movement of bank notes, foreign currency and Krugerrand coins in and out of SA is governed by exchange control regulations. The limit on the amount of currency one can bring into or take out of SA is R25,000 (cash) and for combinations of cash in other currencies, the limit is $10,000 (or equivalent). Any amount higher than this must be declared on entry or when leaving SA.
To detect potential threats, Mkosi said the revenue services does risk profiling, day-to-day monitoring by customs officers, and uses canine units and scanners on goods and travellers moving in and out of SA.
According to Mkosi, the perpetrators of smuggling crimes are mostly South African, although some are nationals of other African countries arriving in or transiting through SA.
At ports of entry Mkosi said they focus on high-risk commodities and routes, with the collaboration of other law enforcement agencies.
Smugglers use novel ways to get their wares through customs undetected. On July 31 2018, a shipment from SA destined for the UK was profiled after a customs detector dog reacted positively. The shipment had been declared as “Car Parts General”, but upon physical examination of the contents, a booster charger was found which felt unusually heavy. The part was X-rayed and, after dismantling it, 15 blocks of white powder wrapped with black rubber and foil were found. The powder tested positive for cocaine. Weighing in at 16kg, it had an estimated value of R4.8m.In another incident a parcel declared as books, sent from SA to Australia, was intercepted by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, four books were found containing cocaine. The goods weighed 2.5kg, which has an estimated value of R750,000.Jannie Rossouw, head of the Wits School of Economics and Business Sciences, said political uncertainty and the weaker rand had led to an increase in people who try to take their money out of the country without declaring it to SARS.
Rossouw referred the current land debate as another reason why people try to protect their assets – even going to the extent of moving them illegally.
“There are lots of questions when it comes to the land expropriation debate. It is not clear as to what will happen to the fixed assets. People don’t know if they will be compensated for crops and live cattle. Things are very uncertain and there are no guarantees on whether financial assets will be protected,” said Rossouw...