Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) said on Friday that customs officials at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport confiscated 108kg of drugs this week, which were hidden in boxes and declared as "calcium carbonate".

It was just one bust in what appears to have been a particularly busy month, pointing to increasing attempts to smuggle drugs into SA. Last year, drugs worth R2.3bn were confiscated in the country.

SARS said that, on inspecting the boxes in the cargo section at the airport after they arrived from Kenya on Tuesday, officials discovered a white powdery substance and a brown sand-like substance, which they sent to a private laboratory for testing.

The results came back positive for the drug ketamine (the white powdery substance) and acetylanthranil‚ a base ingredient for methaqualone (Mandrax).

The case has been handed over to the Hawks for further investigation.

In another incident‚ a truck leaving Lesotho was stopped on Thursday at the Ficksburg border post in the Free State and searched after the driver acted suspiciously. Customs officials discovered 207 bags filled with cannabis weighing more than 6‚000kg. The total value of the cannabis is more than R9m‚ said SARS. The driver was taken into police custody.

This week, customs also released statistics for the total number of busts over the past financial year. The combined value of goods confiscated from April 1 2017 to March 31 2018 add up to more than R2.3bn.

According to the chief officer for Customs and Excise‚ Teboho Mokoena‚ the seizure of counterfeit clothing‚ footwear and other goods made up the biggest contribution‚ amounting to R1.8bn. This was followed by the seizure of narcotics‚ including tik‚ cocaine and other drugs‚ amounting to more R326m.

Some of the statistics given include:

• Narcotics: 728 busts valued at R326,898,911

• Cigarettes: 383 busts valued at R29,659,899

• CITES (including endangered species such as rhino horns and abalone): 55 busts valued at R45,298,167

• Currency: 21 busts valued at R79,304,889

• Viagra/Viagra generics: 214 busts valued at R17,717,200

• Counterfeit clothing‚ footwear and other goods: 1,698 busts valued at R1,811,678,633

• Clothing and textiles (second-hand and other infringements): 51 busts valued at R76,860,835

• Alcohol: 269 busts valued at R4,647,665

Some of the busts include a special high-visibility joint operation‚ led by SARS Customs and Excise and involving various government agencies‚ in Cape Town in March 2018. It resulted in 46 busts of goods with a value of R33,229,233.

The operation’s biggest bust was of uncut crystal methamphetamine (tik) with an estimate value of R30m stashed in fridges on a truck that arrived in Cape Town from Johannesburg. In the same truck‚ a large amount of suspected counterfeit clothing was also discovered. The truck driver was arrested.

Other highlights include the seizure of:

• Rhino horn with an estimated value of R5,752,000 en route from SA to Hong Kong‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Cocaine with an estimated value of R56,676,900 en route from Brazil to Australia via SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Cocaine with an estimated value of R10,069,500 en route from Brazil to Namibia via SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Cocaine with an estimated value of R7,480,200 en route from Brazil to Congo via SA seized at OR Tambo International Airport

• Crystal methamphetamine with an estimated value of R7,200,000 from Nigeria to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Rhino horn with an estimated value of R4,600,000 en route from Zambia to Hong Kong via SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Currency (US dollars) valued R6,717,848 en route from SA to Dubai‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Ecstasy with an estimated value of R33,600,000 en route from Cameroon via Kenya to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Currency (US dollars) valued at R10,328,010 en route from South Africa to Canada‚ at OR Tambo International Airport.

• Currency (US dollars) valued at R10,069,249 en route from Angola to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport.

• Sexual enhancement tablets valued at R5,260,000 en route from India via Seychelles to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Currency (rands and US dollars) valued at R10,323,591.00 en route from SA to Dubai‚ at Cape Town International Airport

• Currency (rands and US dollars) valued at R6,198,828.50 en route from SA to Dubai‚ at King Shaka International Airport

• Crystal methamphetamine with an estimated value of R6,180,000 en route within SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Abalone with an estimated value of R10,000,000 en route from SA to China‚ at Port Elizabeth Harbour

• Kamagra (generic Viagra) valued at R4,000,000 en route from India to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Ephedrine with an estimated value of R17,202,000 en route from Kenya to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Currency (US dollars and pounds sterling) valued at R15,000,000 en route from SA to Dubai‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Viagra valued R9,000,000 en route from Dubai to SA‚ and OR Tambo International Airport

• Crystal methamphetamine with an estimated value of R8,358,000 en route from Rwanda to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

• Ephedrine with an estimated value of R17,202,000 en route from Kenya to SA‚ at OR Tambo International Airport

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