Three arrested after being found with gold bars in hand luggage at airport

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Three suspected smugglers have been arrested by the South African Police Service (SAPS) after they were found to have gold bars in their hand luggage at the OR Tambo International Airport.

“The trio had just flown into South Africa from Madagascar and were en route to Dubai via Ethiopia last week when they were apprehended. Upon questioning of the suspects and further inspection of their hand luggage, officials discovered the gold bars and some foreign currency,” Colonel Athlenda Mathe says.

The gold bars, weighing approximately 73.5 kg with an estimated worth of R61 million, and foreign currency have been confiscated under the Customs and Excise Act and the Exchange Control Regulations. SAPS’ Organised Crime Unit will continue criminal investigations.

The operation by SAPS, South African Revenue Service (SARS) customs officials, Department of Health (Port Health officials) and officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) was carried out after abnormal images were shown by security scanners.

The Hawks, along with Interpol, will be working to determine the legitimacy of certification documents held by the suspects, where the gold was mined and what they were intended to be used for.

The suspects are expected to appear in the Kempton Magistrate’s Court today on charges of dealing with precious metals and contravening the Customs Act.