Swoop at PE harbour nets illegal booze, foodstuffs
Authorities have revealed that illegally imported liquor and food worth more than R1-million was confiscated during a joint clampdown at the Port Elizabeth harbour in January.
They had kept a tight lid on the bust as various government departments were called in to take part in the investigation.
Thousands of litres of alcohol – including 800l of “an alcoholic concoction” – and imported canned food were confiscated .
In a similar bust last month, drums of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky worth R2.5-million were found being smuggled from the Port of Ngqura to Saudi Arabia – where it is illegal to produce, import or drink alcohol.
While the exact value of the products confiscated in January – mainly manufactured in Nigeria – remains unknown, authorities have estimated the total bust to be more than R1-million.
Yesterday, police said the containers had all been destined for Johannesburg.
Police spokesman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said: “There were items that had not been declared.
“These items have been seized as no permits or documentation had been issued.”
Various authorities roped in include the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, Liquor Board, police, customs, the SA Revenue Service and the Department of Health.
“The food parcels inside the containers include condensed milk and other products, all of which have not been approved for import and are, according to South African regulations, illegal for sale or distribution within our borders,” Janse van Rensburg said.
The shipping manifesto listed the alcohol as “juices and cooldrinks”.
“Officials discovered that some of the products had an alcohol content in excess of 42%.
“We suspect this was an attempt by the importer to evade paying tax on the items.”
The alcohol seized includes 4 416 bottles of Alomo Bitters, 5 338 bottles of Origin Bitters, more than 4 500 bottles of beer, 800l of an “alcoholic concoction” in 25l drums, and thousands of bottles of Nigerian wines.
Several dockets have been opened for investigation, including violation of the import permits, the illegal distribution of alcohol and the illegal catching and importing of marine products.
Janse van Rensburg said 328kg of Nigerian stockfish and 319kg of crayfish had also been found.
SARS, the Liquor Board and the Department of Health will all open cases based on their separate probes.
Asked if the person who the stock was meant to be delivered to had been tracked down, Janse van Rensburg said he had been located in Johannesburg.