DURBAN, Friday Customs officials of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) began destroying several illegally imported vehicles and clothing valued at over R7-million in Durban earlier today in a bid to clamp down on illegal imports that harm the economy.
Over 13 000 bales of illegally imported clothing, valued at R6,75-million, as well as 15 vehicles, valued at a total of R450 000.00, will be destroyed.
According to SARS Customs Executive Mr Patrick Moeng, SARS Customs has destroyed 11 514 bales of clothing and footwear valued R2,5-million and 57 vehicles valued at R7,1-million since 1 April this year.
He said Illegal trade takes place through various mechanisms. This includes smuggling (bringing goods into the country undetected, 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 do not attract high duties, amongst others.
Recently, a high-level inter-governmental task team was established between the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI), International Trade and Administration Commission (ITAC) and SARS to tackle illicit trade, with a focus on clothing, textiles, leather and footwear, scrap metals and gold.
SARS as a member of this task team has been working intensively in three key provinces with the highest import volumes in clothing and textiles. The provinces are Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Mr Moeng said the devastating impact of illegal imports includes the following:
import duties and value added tax (VAT) due to SARS are not paid, which is a loss to the fiscus
distorts the local economy in the affected value chain
a decline in the country's ability to manufacture goods locally
job losses, particularly in the manufacturing sector
contravention of intellectual property rights
discourage local companies to innovate in these sectors the fuelling of corruption through these illegal activities.
Mr Moeng added that illegal imports also pose a significant health risk for consumers through the availability of under-priced and unregulated cigarettes that conflicts with government's health policy.