Busted: five shipping containers filled with fakes

2011-01-08 00:00

SA POLICE officers and the Hawks started the year on a high note when they bust a top of the range counterfeit shipment worth R120 million in Durban harbour yesterday morning.

The goods were in five containers from China and were destined for Johannesburg. The containers were kept at the harbour for more than a week. Police Crime Intelligence and Hawks were informed that the containers’ paperwork looked suspicious.

So far no one has been arrested.

“It is the biggest seizure of goods in one day,” said McIntosh Polela, Hawks spokesperson.

While the law enforcers have started a round-the-clock search for the importer and buyer, they have also applied for a court order to have the “high quality” goods destroyed.

“We are investigating the importer. The paperwork was there but people can always be dishonest for their own safety,” said Polela.

He said there were about 80 officers from both units and staff from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) at the harbour yesterday morning.

“When the paperwork looked suspicious we had to break the containers open to see what was inside,” he said.

On opening the containers, the law enforcers were dazzled by the brand names like Nike shoes and clothes, Georgio Armani goods, Springbok rugby jerseys, Ferrari and Puma watches, Levi jeans, Dolce and Gabana, Uzzi, Adidas, Oakley and Armani sunglasses and many more.

Polela said the goods were of a very high quality and closely resembled the genuine articles.

“As a result, it’s becoming harder to detect them (if they are fake).

“With Nike shoes for instance, you literally have to cut the sole off the shoe to determine whether or not they are counterfeit,” he said.

He said police were also trying to establish if all of them were destined for Johannesburg or if others were due for other African countries.

Yesterday’s discovery was one of many since May last year.

In December last year, a Durban man, Mervyn Naidoo, was arrested as he tried to bribe harbour police with R40 000 to have a container filled with fake goods allowed into the country.

In July fake DVD movies worth R2 million, fake cigarettes worth R6 million and R2 million worth of Viagra were recovered in containers at the harbour.

The following day other containers with R64 million worth of fake goods were also seized.

Last year also saw 81 000 fake soccer jerseys valued at R48 million, confiscated during the World Cup.

SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the smuggling of illegal goods into the country remains a problem to the authorities as they are in high demand by the local market.

“But this has a serious impact on the local economy.

“We catch these goods almost every day either being brought into the country through airports or sea ports.

“If you look at our annual report you will see how much goods we have seized,” said Lackay.

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