Police arrested three suspected smugglers after gold weighing 73.5 kg was found in their hand luggage at the OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) on Monday, 4 January 2021.
The suspects are expected to appear before the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court on charges of dealing with precious metal and contravention of the Customs Act
Acting on information provided by security officials at the airport after a security scanner identified irregular images, a multi-disciplinary team consisting of the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African Revenue Service (SARS) customs officials, Department of Health (Port Health officials) and officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) pounced on the trio at the international arrival terminals.
According to police, the trio had just flown into South Africa from Madagascar and were en-route to Dubai via Ethiopia last week when they were apprehended.
Upon questioning of the suspects and further inspection of their hand luggage, officials discovered the gold bars and some foreign currency.
Both the gold bars and foreign currency have been seized for further investigation under the Customs and Excise Act and the Exchange Control Regulation. The suspects have been detained and the matter has been taken over by the SAPS Organised Crime Unit for criminal investigations.
Investigations are also underway by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) with the assistance of Interpol with authorities from various countries to determine the legitimacy of the certification papers as provided by the men and also to determine the country of origin where the gold was mined. Investigations will also focus on which country the gold bars were destined for.