Customs officials seize R20m in gold

Customs officials seized gold worth nearly R 20 million at the OR Tambo International Airport, thwarting an attempt to run it out of the country on Friday.

South African Revenue Services (Sars) spokesperson Sandile Memela said in a statement that 39 gold bars were found hidden in the hand luggage of two passengers in the airport’s departure terminal.

“Acting on intelligence, which included collaboration between airlines, customs officials requested the two passengers to accompany the officers to the search area for a mandatory inspection.”

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“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 lives in South Africa.

He did not have a boarding pass, but informed customs officials that he was on his way to Mozambique,” Memela said.

He added that the bars, worth R18.7m, had been wrapped in items of clothing.

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“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,” he said.

The two were detained and are expected to appear in court on Monday.

This comes on the back of a similar bust in Durban, where a man was caught allegedly attempting to smuggle 5.6kg gold from Dubai into South Africa two weeks ago.