SARS clamps down on illegal clothing and textiles imports

Sars building. (Website)
Sars building. (Website)

Pretoria – SARS customs officials say they have carried out a massive illegal clothing and textile imports bust, seizing goods worth more than R20m at OR Tambo International Airport over two days.

Four consignments of suspected counterfeit goods, with a combined value of R20.5m, were intercepted.

The goods included 10 300 "Nike" sneakers, 100 "Louis Vuitton" bags, 2 000 children's "Nike" sneakers, 470 "Gucci" dresses and 1 600 ladies "Polo" and "Chanel" shoes from China.

“We are trying to be as responsive as possible to the industry’s plight. We are currently working on numerous clothing and textile cases worth millions of rands,” said Patrick Moeng, executive at customs investigations.

He said that customs had increased its vigilance when it came to clothing and textile items.

This was one of 561 busts that SARS customs officials have carried out since a special "increased inspections" operation started at the City Deep depot in August this year.

The operation focuses specifically on prohibited and restricted goods, such as counterfeit clothing and shoes.

So far, there have been 132 busts related to clothing and textile infringements, bringing in more than R10.5m revenue since August.

Customs said it was also focusing on "plugging the leaks at non-designated border posts".

Three weeks ago, a bust at Kosi Bay netted suspected counterfeit clothing and footwear, with a street value of about R1.2m. This border post was targeted as a smuggling hotspot due to a lack of controls, customs said.

"Once we have assessed the risk at these border posts, we will focus on strategy and capacity planning at non-designated ports going forward," Moeng said.

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