WATCH: SARS goes big for international customs day, dogs and all

Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane. (File, AFP)
Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane. (File, AFP)

Cape Town – A military parade, helicopter drop and a dog hoisting the South African flag - these are just some of the stylish ways the South African Revenue Service (SARS) celebrated International Customs Day.

The red carpet was rolled out for SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane at the Cape Town State Warehouse on Friday, where he addressed customs and excise officers. International Customs Day marks the 65th anniversary of the World Customs Organisation (WCO).

Moyane was led through the State Warehouse upon his arrival where he met officers. A military parade had been prepared for him, thereafter he addressed the officers, commending their preparation. “It is most important that today we are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of the World Customs Organisation, and we do it with pomp and we do it with dignity and we do it with style,” he said.

Moyane stressed the importance of officers doing their work with “integrity and honesty”.

“Honesty and integrity is the mantra of the unit,” he said. “We will not have officers in customs area being part and parcel of criminals or facilitators of crime.” He went on to say that the officers play a pivotal role in the collection of revenue to add to the fiscus.

SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane arrives at the State Warehouse in Cape Town, he was led into the warehouse where he met customs and excise officers. (Video: Lameez Omarjee)

‘Spick and span’ uniforms

“The uniform that you don must be respected, must be taken care of,” Moyane said. He explained that the uniforms they wear symbolise the resilience of South Africans, and that they have a duty to defend the interests of the country and its citizens.

 “We should have a covenant. When I walk into an airport anywhere in SA, I should find you in full gear of uniform. Shirts tucked in, boots shining, hats on your heads, your uniform spic and span and your boots spittingly clean,” he instructed. “An officer is respected by the manner in which he represents himself. A shabby officer represents how shabby he is in terms of his work.”

Customs and excise officers demonstrate a parade for SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane and other executives. (Video: Lameez Omarjee)

Detector dogs steal the show

The real stars of the day’s events were the detector dogs, one of which hoisted the South African flag for the anthem. Moyane asked that the “innovation” within the dog unit be applauded. Moyane said that the use of the dog unit had the ability to transform the organisation to a “very high trajectory”.

A demonstration of a helicopter drop, used for vessel rummages. A dog handler and his dog get dropped at the Cape Town State Warehouse. (Video: Lameez Omarjee)

There are 12 dog units nationally and 122 dog handlers, according to Pauline Andrews, SARS team commander detector dog unit in the Western Cape. The dogs have the capacity to detect narcotics, endangered species, tobacco products, currencies and copper wire in different vehicles, vessels and aircraft.

The unit demonstrated dogs finding dagga in luggage and cocaine hidden in a vehicle.

A dog named Milo detects dagga in a bag, before being rewarded with a treat. (Video: Lameez Omarjee)

A dog named Mason detects cocaine in a vehicle, before being rewarded with a treat. (Video: Lameez Omarjee)

Moyane later delivered an address inside the warehouse, which was recently refurbished. The purpose of these warehouses is for the safekeeping of goods which are undeclared or have been seized or abandoned, as well as for keeping confiscated illicit or counterfeit goods.

Declared goods which have been detained for the determination of the correct tariff classification, or those without a permit, are also stored in the warehouses.

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