(2015-12-06) SA Revenue Service (SARS) customs officials at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) on Friday evening confiscated 39 gold bars found in the hand luggage of two male passengers in the international departure area at the boarding gates.
“Acting on intelligence, which included collaboration between airlines, customs officials requested the two passengers to accompany the officers to the customs common search area for a mandatory inspection,” SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela said in a statement. One of the passengers, a Mozambican national, was en route to Dubai after arriving earlier from Mozambique.
The other passenger was a Pakistani national who lived in South Africa. He did not have a boarding pass, but informed customs officials that he was on his way to Mozambique, he said. “Upon inspection of their hand luggage, officials found the 39 gold bars, weighing 37kg with an estimated value of R18.7 million, in the Mozambican’s hand luggage. Most of the gold bars were wrapped in T-shirts, while others were found in a paper bag in the same carry-on bag. “Upon questioning the suspects, the Mozambican passenger claimed that the gold belongs to the other passenger.“
“According to him, the Pakistani man gave him the bag that contained the gold bars. It is suspected that these passengers bypassed security, probably in collaboration with airline security,” Memela said.
The gold was retained for further investigation under the Customs and Excise Act and the Exchange Control Regulation. Both the suspects were arrested, and their belongings, including the 39 gold bars, handed over to the SA Police Service (SAPS) organised crime unit for criminal investigation. They were expected to appear in court on Monday.
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