(2015-12-29) Money being smuggled through South Africa might be intended to finance terrorist activities, or could have been obtained as ransoms, according to senior South African police officer Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, cited in Monday’s issue of the Johannesburg “Star” newspaper.
Malaudzi is spokesperson for the Hawks (known more prosaically as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation). He was speaking in the wake of the seizure of the equivalent of 7.3 million US dollars in banknotes from two Mozambicans at the Lebombo border post on Christmas Day.
“Where and how they got it is one of those (things) we are trying to ascertain,” he said on Sunday.
His mention of ransom money is certainly a possibility. Mozambican cities have been hit by a wave of kidnappings since late 2011. The victims have mostly been businessmen of Asian origin or their relatives, and huge sums have been demanded in ransoms.
Mulaudzi said it was still unclear where the money came from, but the police were investigating whether the men were involved in crime syndicates and serious criminal activities such as cash-in-transit robberies.
Acting on an anonymous tip-off, the police searched the Toyota pick-up used by the suspects, and found the money hidden in a false compartment. There were so many banknotes that it took five hours to count them all.
The Christmas Day haul is by no means an isolated case. Sandile Memela, spokesperson for the South African Revenue Service (SARS), said more than 200 million rands (about 13 million US dollars at current exchange rates) of illegal money has been confiscated by customs officials during the past few months.
In August, eight men were arrested when they tried to smuggle 23 million rands and 3.77 million dollars in banknotes in 12 pieces of luggage on a plane from Johannesburg to Dubai. There were suggestions at the time that the money was on its way to Pakistan, and that some of it was intended for the terrorists of the self-styled “Islamic State” (ISIS or Daesh).
Source: AIM News
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