South African Revenue Service customs officials in Durban have begun destroying over R7m worth of illegally imported goods, including 15 vehicles and 13 000 bales of clothing.
The vehicles were valued at R450 000 and the clothes at R6.75m, the tax agency said in a statement on Friday morning.
The Department of Trade and Industry, the International Trade and Administration Commission and the revenue collection agency recently established an inter-governmental task team to crack down on illicit trade, focusing on clothing, textiles, leather and footwear, as well as scrap metals and gold.
SARS Customs Executive Patrick Moeng said a total of 11 514 bales of clothing and footwear, valued at R2.5m, and 57 vehicles valued at R7.1m, had been destroyed since April.
According to Moeng, illicit trade takes place through various channels, including
- smuggling – which means bringing goods into the country or exporting them undetected;
- fraudulent shipment of goods via a third country to take advantage of preferential import duties; and
- falsely declaring goods under tariff headings that attract lower duties.
Moeng added that illegal imports have a "devastating impact" including job losses and a decline in the country's ability to manufacture goods locally. Illicit trade also fuels corruption, he said.
SARS has been struggling to meet its revenue collection targets and has vowed to crack down on tax offenders. Earlier in November, SARS won a R1bn tax evasion case against general dealer Africa Cash & Carry, Fin24 reported.
A vehicle is loaded for destruction. Picture: Supplied.
Pictures: Anton Fisher, SARS