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Rhino horn worth R115m and declared as fine art seized at OR Tambo

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Sars customs officials and their detection dogs located 41 pieces of rhino horn

CUSTOMS officials from the South African Revenue Service (Sars) recovered rhino horn at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday that was to be illegally shipped to international buyers. 

According to a statement issued on Wednesday, the customs teams and their detection dogs located 41 pieces of rhino horn valued at R115.66 million in a consignment declared as “fine art”.

According to Sars, the contraband had been concealed in carbon paper and foil and was destined for the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.

Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter commended the customs officials on their work.

“Criminal and illicit economic activities are rife and result in billions of rand of losses in tax and customs revenue to the fiscus. In addition, it does serious harm to our domestic economy. I am therefore very pleased with the success at OR Tambo by our customs officials,” said Kieswetter. 

“I wish to express sincere appreciation to our customs officers for this diligence in fighting these unacceptable criminal activities,” he added.

“We will spare no effort in confronting and dealing with any criminal acts that threaten the well-being of our country and depriving our future generation from witnessing the beauty of nature as represented by our rhinoceros. We will not rest until all are caught,” said the commissioner. 

To add to the list of illicit items found, Sars customs officials also discovered abalone valued at around R1 million which was en route to Hong Kong.

The team also found ephedrine to the value of R600 000, a drug often abused because of its performance-enhancing effects. 

The drugs were found hidden in two printer cartridges destined for Madagascar.