SOUTH Africa’s Hawks, a specialised directorate for priority crime investigation, have arrested a 33-year-old Zimbabwean man for allegedly smuggling 23 pieces of gold worth R11 million into the neighbouring country.
The Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation team made the arrest on Saturday, after the man, who was travelling from Zimbabwe, was requested to scan his luggage at the SA Revenue Service’s custom section at international arrivals, police said in a statement.
“He allegedly failed to declare any items and did not have any permits or licences to be in possession or transport gold and the Hawks were called to effect the arrest and conduct further investigation,” police said.
In a statement Hawks’ regional spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Philani Nkwalase, said the suspect was expected to appear at Kempton Park Regional Court today on charges of violating the Custom Act.
“A 33-year-old suspect is expected to appear at Kempton Park Regional Court, facing charges of contravening the Customs Act 91 of 1964 and Precious Metals Act 37 of 2005 respectively. This follows his arrest at the Oliver Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg by the Hawks Serious Organised Crime Investigation team on Saturday afternoon,” said Lt Col Nkwalase.
The gold was discovered when airport officials had asked the alleged gold smuggler, who had travelled to South Africa from Zimbabwe, to scan his luggage.
“The suspect was requested to scan his luggage at the international arrivals Customs section of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and 23 pieces of gold were allegedly found in his luggage. He allegedly failed to declare any items and did not have any permits or licences to be in possession or transport gold,” he said.
Lt Col Nkwalase said airport officials alerted the Hawks leading to the suspect’s arrest.
“The preliminary investigation by the Hawks revealed that the suspect travelled from Harare, Zimbabwe to Johannesburg, South Africa. The 23 pieces of gold worth R11 million were seized for further investigation,” he said.
Zimbabwe is losing at least US$100 million worth of gold every month, which is being smuggled out of the country through porous borders with the Government in the process of rolling out measures to plug the leakages.