SARS

15 August – SARS, TISA and FITA commit to combatting illicit trade in cigarette and tobacco products

Pretoria, Wednesday, 15 August 2018 –  The South African Revenue Service (SARS)  met with the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA) and the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) on 15 August 2018 at the SARS Head Office in order to discuss and agree on collaboration among them to combat illicit trade in cigarette and all tobacco products.

FITA and TISA, which represent approximately 99% of the tobacco industry, have committed to taking action against any of their members that are found to be contravening the Tax, Customs and Excise laws of the country, including but not limited to suspension and/or expulsion.

The two associations also committed to ensuring that their members fully comply with the relevant legislation at all times. Members who may be in contravention of the laws are encouraged to take corrective action through available avenues, including making full disclosure to SARS.

All parties acknowledge their shared responsibility in combatting illicit trade in cigarette and tobacco products in the best interest of economic growth and compliance with Tax, Customs and Excise laws.

The Acting Commissioner of SARS expressed his appreciation to both parties for their commitment towards improving compliance in the industry.

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7 August 2018 – Appointment of Mr Johnstone Makhubu as SARS Chief Officer: Finance

PRETORIA 07 August 2018 — The South African Revenue Service (SARS) wishes to announce the appointment of Mr Johnstone Makhubu as its Chief Officer: Finance with immediate effect.

Mr Makhubu holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the now University of KwaZulu Natal as well as a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Supply Chain and Operations Management from the University of South Africa. He further holds a Master of Business Leadership (MBL) from the University of South Africa’s School of Business Leadership. Mr. Makhubu has further completed a Senior Management Programme with the Henley Business School and is at the outset of a PhD with the University of Pretoria.

Mr. Makhubu has more than 17 years of experience across the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Mining, Engineering and Manufacturing, as well as Power Generation industries, where he has held positions ranging from, Facilities Management, Supply Chain Management, as well as Business Support Services. Mr. Makhubu has worked for Unilever (Lever Brothers), Tiger Brands, Anglo Platinum and Eskom.

Prior to joining SARS, Johnston worked for Eskom, where he was responsible for implementing a rationalised centre-led procurement hub. He was later appointed as the Head of Business Enablement within Eskom, where he was responsible for, amongst other functions, the Commercial Finance Unit, which later extended to cover the Supply Chain Management Risk and Governance Unit.

Mr. Makhubu joined SARS in 2016 as the Group Executive responsible for Procurement, and was appointed to the Acting Chief Officer: Finance role in August 2017, a role he has held and executed to date. In this current role, Mr. Makhubu will be responsible for the overall management of the Finance Division including Procurement, as well as the Corporate Real Estate portfolios.

3 August 2018 – SARS customs makes major busts of drugs and currency within days

Pretoria, 03 August 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs division made a bust of multiple currency and drugs at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). This was the latest in a string of illicit/illegal goods busts, valued at close to R15 million.

On Monday 30 July, risks were identified regarding two non-related male passengers, who were possibly in possession of excess currency travelling to Dubai. The travellers were intercepted, attempting to leave RSA and were questioned.

The travellers, in both instances, then admitted that they were in possession of currency. Upon further questioning, the two passengers could not provide explanations or evidence as to how they had acquired the currency. They were escorted off and taken to the Customs control area where their respective luggage was searched.

Upon inspection of the first passenger’s luggage, currency (USD464 650) equivalent to R6 114 794 was found concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigations.

During the inspection of the second passenger, currency (USD 234 000) equivalent to R3 079 440 was found also concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the SAPS for further investigations as well.

SARS appreciates the high level of active collaboration between ACSA, SAPS, DHA, Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA), which leads to such effective detections and successful prosecutions of passengers.

On 31 July 2018, a shipment from South Africa destined for the UK was profiled for examination at Couriers, when a Customs detector dog reacted positively. The shipment had been declared as ‘Car Parts General’, however, upon physical examination of the contents, a booster charger was found which felt unusually heavy.
The part was X-rayed and square shaped image impressions were observed, which led to the part being dismantled, revealing 15 blocks concealing a white powdery substance which was wrapped with black rubber and foil. The powder was analysed and it tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 16kg, which has an estimated value of R4 800 000. The shipment was handed over to SAPS (DPCI) for further investigation.

In another incident, a parcel declared as books, also from South Africa to Australia, was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit when a detector dog reacted positively. Upon inspection, four books were found containing sheets of plastic with a white powdery substance. A drug testing kit was administered and tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 2.5kg, which has an estimated value of R750 000. They were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Furthermore, on the 28 July 2018, a Brazilian female passenger expelled several “cocaine bullets” with an estimated value of R285 000.  She was intercepted whilst disembarking from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, and intercepted when the information was received. The passenger was questioned and her luggage was searched with nothing suspicious, however risk indicators suggested that the passenger might be a drug mule. The passenger was taken to the hospital and an X-ray was conducted, which revealed foreign objects in her abdomen. The passenger was handed over to SAPS for further investigation.

In another search, a parcel with no documentation was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, plastic containers concealing 250 Cannabis Heads, with an estimated value of R25 000 were found. The goods were also handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

In another interception, a parcel from South Africa to Dubai was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, a magazine was found concealing two travel documents, valued at R1 400. The goods were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Another male passenger disembarking from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg was intercepted. During questioning, the passenger could not verify where he was travelling to. His passport indicated that he had been in Singapore where he obtained his visa. The passenger was taken to the immigration inspectorate office for an interview, where the visa was identified as fraudulent. He was then refused entry into South Africa, and will be returned to his country.

SARS Customs officers, together with rest of the country’s enforcement agencies, will continue to remain on high alert and vigilant at all ports of entries to stem the tide of illicit/illegal goods coming through or out of our borders.

To see the pictures, click here.

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3 August 2018 – ARS customs makes major busts of drugs and currency within days

Pretoria, 03 August 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) Customs division made a bust of multiple currency and drugs at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA). This was the latest in a string of illicit/illegal goods busts, valued at close to R15 million.

On Monday 30 July, risks were identified regarding two non-related male passengers, who were possibly in possession of excess currency travelling to Dubai. The travellers were intercepted, attempting to leave RSA and were questioned.

The travellers, in both instances, then admitted that they were in possession of currency. Upon further questioning, the two passengers could not provide explanations or evidence as to how they had acquired the currency. They were escorted off and taken to the Customs control area where their respective luggage was searched.

Upon inspection of the first passenger’s luggage, currency (USD464 650) equivalent to R6 114 794 was found concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigations.

During the inspection of the second passenger, currency (USD 234 000) equivalent to R3 079 440 was found also concealed in paper wrapped with brown tape. The currency was confiscated, and the passenger handed over to the SAPS for further investigations as well.

SARS appreciates the high level of active collaboration between ACSA, SAPS, DHA, Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA), which leads to such effective detections and successful prosecutions of passengers.

On 31 July 2018, a shipment from South Africa destined for the UK was profiled for examination at Couriers, when a Customs detector dog reacted positively. The shipment had been declared as ‘Car Parts General’, however, upon physical examination of the contents, a booster charger was found which felt unusually heavy.
The part was X-rayed and square shaped image impressions were observed, which led to the part being dismantled, revealing 15 blocks concealing a white powdery substance which was wrapped with black rubber and foil. The powder was analysed and it tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 16kg, which has an estimated value of R4 800 000. The shipment was handed over to SAPS (DPCI) for further investigation.

In another incident, a parcel declared as books, also from South Africa to Australia, was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit when a detector dog reacted positively. Upon inspection, four books were found containing sheets of plastic with a white powdery substance. A drug testing kit was administered and tested positive for cocaine. The goods weighed 2.5kg, which has an estimated value of R750 000. They were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Furthermore, on the 28 July 2018, a Brazilian female passenger expelled several “cocaine bullets” with an estimated value of R285 000.  She was intercepted whilst disembarking from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg, and intercepted when the information was received. The passenger was questioned and her luggage was searched with nothing suspicious, however risk indicators suggested that the passenger might be a drug mule. The passenger was taken to the hospital and an X-ray was conducted, which revealed foreign objects in her abdomen. The passenger was handed over to SAPS for further investigation.

In another search, a parcel with no documentation was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, plastic containers concealing 250 Cannabis Heads, with an estimated value of R25 000 were found. The goods were also handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

In another interception, a parcel from South Africa to Dubai was intercepted at Couriers by the Detector Dog Unit. Upon inspection, a magazine was found concealing two travel documents, valued at R1 400. The goods were handed over to SAPS for further investigations.

Another male passenger disembarking from Addis Ababa to Johannesburg was intercepted. During questioning, the passenger could not verify where he was travelling to. His passport indicated that he had been in Singapore where he obtained his visa. The passenger was taken to the immigration inspectorate office for an interview, where the visa was identified as fraudulent. He was then refused entry into South Africa, and will be returned to his country.

SARS Customs officers, together with rest of the country’s enforcement agencies, will continue to remain on high alert and vigilant at all ports of entries to stem the tide of illicit/illegal goods coming through or out of our borders.

To see the pictures, click here.

31 July 2018 – Trade Statistics for June 2018

Pretoria, 31 July 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) today releases trade statistics for June 2018 recording a trade balance surplus of R12.00 billion. These statistics include trade data with Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland (BLNS). The year-to-date (01 January to 30 June 2018) trade balance deficit of R1.79 billion is a deterioration on the surplus for the comparable period in 2017 of R25.00 billion. Exports year-to-date increased by 1.5% whilst imports for the same period showed an increase of 6.6%.

27 July 2018 – Woman sentenced and company fined for failure to pay taxes

Friday, 27 July 2018 – A Free State business woman was sentenced to four years imprisonment and her company fined R1 million for failure to pay business taxes to SARS. Ms Annelene Elmarie Thomas, currently residing in Bloemfontein, was also ordered to pay back all outstanding taxes and levies due to SARS.

Ms Thomas was sentenced in her personal capacity, separate from her former company, Phindana Properties 169, trading as Ed-U-College, which operated a private school in Odendaalsrus. She pleaded guilty to 111 charges of submitting EMP 201 returns without paying the due Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Skills Development Levy (SDL) in her personal capacity, and on behalf of Ed-U-College.

In terms of a plea bargain agreement reached with the state, Magistrate B.B. Mahlatsi suspended the sentences wholly but conditionally in the Odendaalsrus Regional Court last week. Ms Thomas was however also ordered to pay back the R786 601 she owes SARS. Failure to adhere to the court order may result in the execution of the imprisonment sentence.

Neo Tsholanku, SARS’ Group Executive: Criminal Investigations welcomed the judgement.

“It serves as a warning to employers that the courts will not tolerate withholding employees’ taxes payable to SARS. Not only does it affect revenue, but it prevents employees from complying with their own tax obligations. In addition, revenue earmarked for UIF and SDL negatively impacts on the unemployed and the training sector,” said Tsholanku.

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27 July 2018 – SARS refutes claims of clearing plane with guns and ammunition

Pretoria, 27 July 2018 – SARS wishes to clarify media reports that Customs officials discovered R4 and R5 rifles, 7.62mm light machine guns and ammunition on-board an aircraft at Waterkloof Airforce base last Saturday, 23 July 2018.

SARS wishes to state that the reports contain factual inaccuracies and that we were not afforded an opportunity to comment on the reports prior to release. The accurate chronology of events on this matter is as follows:

  • The specific aircraft, a chartered flight, which was scheduled to depart from OR Tambo International Airport on Friday, 22 July, was cancelled. We can confirm that our Customs and Immigrations officials were informed by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) of the flight’s schedule to be able to conduct the necessary inspections as per normal processes, including inspecting the flight for prohibited and restricted goods.
  • Our Customs officials were working with colleagues in the SANDF to clear the aircraft, and we can report that neither weapons nor ammunition were found in the flight or passenger luggage during the inspection of the flight and documents presented to the Customs officials. 

Finally, SARS wishes to pledge its full commitment to cooperation with the SANDF and other relevant government agencies at national points of entry in the effort to protect the interests of the country.

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25 July 2018 – Explosives and illicit cigarettes intercepted at Beitbridge border post

Pretoria, 25 July 2018 – Last week Customs officers made busts of capped fused explosives, as well as illicit cigarettes, at the Beitbridge border post.

On Thursday 19 July a foreign registered panel van travelling from Zimbabwe to South Africa was intercepted by Customs officers for a random search. When conducting the physical search of the vehicle, all the passengers were ordered to go through the customs red and green channels.

During the search, officers found two bags that were left unattended in the panel van. When the driver was questioned about the bags, he claimed to not know who the owner was.

Customs officers searched the bags in the presence of the driver and found 300 units of suspected cables of explosives valued at approximately R75 000.

The South African Police Services and its bomb squad were immediately called to identify the explosives. A criminal case was opened and a foreign Zimbabwean national and the explosives were handed over to the police. The panel van was detained and placed into the SARS state warehouse.

In another bust that took place on Saturday 21 July, a random search of a bus by Customs officers led to the discovery of cartons of Pacific Blue cigarettes totalling 3997 hidden within 40 bags.  The estimated street value of these cigarettes is approximately R966 915.

The bags belonged to a passenger who is a Zimbabwean national. The goods were declared to Customs officers as 500 brooms packed in 40 bags in the bus trailer. Upon physical inspection, it was discovered that illicit cigarettes were concealed under the brooms.

The police were called to the scene and a criminal case was opened. The passenger was handed over to the police and the bus was released after all necessary processes were completed.

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13 July 2018 – Goods valued at R1.7 billion bust by Customs in the past six months

MEDIA STATEMENT

Pretoria, 13 July 2018 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has released its latest statistics of Customs busts for the period 1 January 2018 until 30 June 2018. The total value of all goods confiscated amounts to R1 732 339 421.

Some of the statistics include:

  • Narcotics: 339 busts valued at R171 177 653
  • Cigarettes: 159 busts valued at R33 345 064
  • CITES (including endangered species such as abalone): 16 busts valued at R13 996 635
  • Currency: 13 busts valued at R52 903 426
  • Viagra / Viagra Generics: 97 busts valued at R40 441 400
  • Counterfeit clothing, footwear and other goods: 3351 busts valued at R1 414 740 024
  • Clothing and Textiles (second hand and other infringements): 20 busts valued at R5 187 702
  • Alcohol: 117 busts valued at R196 868 

Compared with the same period last year (Jan to June 2017), the number and value of busts has increased this year – 4 122 busts valued at R1 732 339 421 this year, compared to 1 763 busts valued at R1 648 779 675 last year.

Acting Chief Officer: Customs and Excise, Beyers Theron, congratulated his officers for the above successes. However, he added that he believed there was more that Customs and SARS could do to make inroads into the illicit economy. “We need to start looking at trends and patterns and becoming more strategic in the way we are dealing with some of these risks.”

Some of the high-profile busts which took place during the first six months of this year include the following:

  • Ketamine and Methaqualone (precursors to mandrax) with an estimated value of R32 000 400, en route from Kenya to South Africa, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 10 April.
  • Methaqualone with an estimated value of R30 000 000, en route from China to South Africa, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 31 January.
  • Sexual Enhancement Tablets (Generic Viagra) valued at R30 000 000, en route from India to South Africa, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 13 May.
  • Currency (USD & GBP) valued R15 000 000, en route from South Africa to Dubai, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 1 February.
  • Abalone with an estimated value of R10 000 000, en route from South Africa to China, seized at Port Elizabeth Harbour on 26 January.
  • Currency (ZAR & USD) valued R6 992 569, en route from South Africa to Mauritius, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 4 May.
  • Currency (ZAR) valued R6 332 008.00, en route from South Africa to Dubai, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 27 March.
  • Kamagra (Generic Viagra) valued at R4 000 000, en route from India to South Africa, seized at OR Tambo International Airport on 15 January.
  • Abalone with an estimated value of R2 370 000, en route from South Africa to Sri Lanka via Dubai, seized at Durban Harbour on 21 February.
  • 1 766 200 Cigarettes seized at Beit Bridge Border Post on 17 April.
  • 500 000 Cigarettes seized at Beit Bridge Border Post on 27 April.

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9 July 2018 – Ten taxpayers sentenced for failure to submit tax returns

Pretoria, 09 July 2018 – Ten taxpayers have been convicted and sentenced since April 2018 for failure to submit outstanding tax returns. Fines ranging from R2000 to R20 000, as well as admission of guilt fines have been handed down by the courts.

These taxpayers have now submitted their outstanding returns. 

SARS announced in April that it is embarking upon an initiative with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to enforce compliance by prosecuting taxpayers who have failed to submit their tax or VAT returns, after continuous communication with the relevant taxpayers did not yield the required results. See April Statement at 16 April 2018 – SARS, NPA to prosecute taxpayers for outstanding returns.

The taxpayers who have been convicted now have a criminal record, as it is a criminal offence not to submit a tax return within the prescribed time for any of the tax types a taxpayer is registered for in terms of the Tax Administration Act No. 28 of 2011 (TAA), specifically Section 234 (d).

Since April, the NPA has issued 35 summonses to taxpayers and VAT vendors to face criminal charges relating to their failure to submit returns. To date, ten cases have been finalised and 20 cases have been remanded after the first appearance of the relevant taxpayers in court. Some taxpayers have opted to make representations to the NPA.  

An additional 24 cases have been handed over to the police for further investigation, while 25 cases are currently still under investigation by SARS criminal investigations for handover to the relevant authorities for further investigation and possible prosecution. The courts have issued three warrants of arrest to taxpayers who failed to appear in court after being summonsed to face criminal charges for non-submission of tax returns.  

The following taxpayers, in alphabetical order according to first names, have been convicted and sentenced:

  • Mr Anapurani Samson Joseph representing Tidal Investments CC in Port Shepstone
  • Mr Christopher John Fletcher
  • Mr Farhad Ebrahim Limalia representing Aquawood Linen CC in Durban
  • Mr Kevin Trevor Benjamin Steele, and Ms Suzanna Magdalena Steele representing Thermo Dynamic Cooling Solutions CC in Durban
  • Mr Michael Sonnyboy Moloi and Ms Regina Pulane representing Happy Recordings and Transcriptions CC in Johannesburg
  • Mr Niraj Ramral representing SPS Distributors Pty Ltd in Port Shepstone
  • Mr Pieter Yzelle Morrison representing Taxkon Ficksburg (PTY)Ltd 
  • Mr Sivalingam Govender  Trading as Trans SA in Durban
  • Mr Thinyane Duncan Leboea representing Qwaqwa Funeral Parlour CC
  • Mr Tsholofelo Teko Modise