Three suspects are to appear before the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court in South Africa after they were caught smuggling 73.5 kg of gold at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).
In a statement, police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe, said the precious metal was found in the suspects’ hand luggage in contravention of the Customs Act.
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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, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) customs officials, the Department of Health and officials from the Department of Home Affairs pounced on the trio at the international arrival terminals.
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Mathe said the three 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,” she said.
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.
Mathe said 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.