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Govt salutes officers who refused R250k bribes after R6m truckload of illicit cigarettes entered SA

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The Public Service Commission has commended law enforcement officials from the SA Revenue Service and the Road Traffic Management Corporation who refused to take bribes of R200,000 and R50,000, respectively, after a truck loaded with R6 million worth of illicit cigarettes had entered South Africa.

A clearing agent and Sars official have been sentenced to 15 years in jail after they facilitated the entry of a truck loaded with R6 million worth of illicit cigarettes via Beitbridge. File picture

THE PUBLIC Service Commission has commended law enforcement officials from the SA Revenue Service and the Road Traffic Management Corporation who refused to take bribes of R200,000 and R50,000 respectively, after a truck loaded with R6 million worth of illicit cigarettes had entered South Africa.

The Musina Regional Court in Limpopo on Thursday sentenced Nthapeleng Adler Munyai, a 47-year-old former Pamdozi Cargo International CC clearing agent, and Tsumbedzo Priscilla Nemangani Mashito, a 47-year-old former SARS customs external verification officer, at Beitbridge border post, to an effective 15 years direct imprisonment term on counts of fraud and forgery and two counts of corruption.

Limpopo spokesperson for the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said trouble mounted for the duo following an incident which took place on March 14, 2016.

“The two accused were arrested for permitting an interlink truck with two trailers, loaded with 614 boxes of semi-manufactured tobacco to the value of over R6 million, to enter the country from Zimbabwe using forged/fabricated/fraudulent consignment clearance documents and thereby processed through the Beitbridge border control’s customs control area without compliance with the normal customs clearance process and procedures,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

She said the truck was later stopped at the Musina weighbridge by an officer of the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) who, upon noticing that the truck and trailers’ registration number plates did not correspond with the licence disks, suspected that there could be something wrong with the consignment on the truck.

“He (RTMC officer) then contacted his senior who was off duty and requested his intervention, which resulted in the truck being sent back to the Beitbridge border control’s customs ramp, under police and traffic officials’ escort, for inspection,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

Munyai allegedly offered the RTMC officer a gratification of R50,000 while the two were still at the weigh bridge.

“With total disregard for the consequences of his actions, (Munyai) continued to offer gratification of R200,000 to another witness, a customs official, for him not to carry out any inspection of the truck when it was at the Beitbridge border control customs ramp,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

“It was revealed that Mashito had just reported for work from leave and had swapped the original duty shift posting. She was also found to have been instrumental in the processing of the truck and its consignment outside the normal and ordinary customs clearance process and procedures and had misrepresented to her employer (the SA Revenue Service) how the transaction relating to the said truck was dealt with.”

The prosecutor, advocate Malope Maponya, of the specialised tax unit, led the evidence of the RTMC officer, the junior and the senior Sars customs officials/managers who are Mashito’s former colleagues, clearing agent officials and Munyai’s colleagues in proving the State’s case against the two accused.

Reacting to the court outcome, the Public Service Commission (PSC) said the upright officials demonstrated “honesty and bravery as well an important trait of serving with integrity and ethical conduct”, characters which must be applauded.

“Their ethical conduct also augurs well towards the professionalisation of the public service and should serve as a lesson to all public servants to give their selfless service to the people of this country. They demonstrated a high standard of professional ethics and that will be engraved in the history books as the real patriots,” said PSC spokesperson Humphrey Ramafoko.

“The PSC would like to encourage all public servants across the country to uphold the constitutional values and principles which calls for professional ethics and accountability. These actions will contribute towards building a professional, ethical and capable public service.”

Meanwhile, the director of public prosecutions in Limpopo, advocate Ivy Thenga, has welcomed the sentencing of Munyai and Mashito.

Thenga said she hoped the sentence would serve as a deterrent to would-be perpetrators of similar offences.

She also applauded the co-operation between the different agencies including the RTMC, Sars customs and internal investigations units, the Hawks’ serious commercial crimes investigations and the NPA.

Thenga also extended gratitude to the government officials “who remained honest and refused to allow themselves to be tempted by the huge amounts of gratification offered to them by the perpetrators”.

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