More than 2 million in rough diamonds found in Beitbridge

JOHANNESBURG –  MORE R2million of rough diamonds and gold was found at the Beitbridge border post when a goods truck from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was inspected, the SA Revenue Services said  last  Friday.

Spokesman Luther Lebelo said Customs officials discovered rough diamonds and gold hidden in a traveller’s belongings at the border post on Wednesday.

He said during an inspection of a goods in a truck officials noticed unusual objects in certain of the boxes being transported.

“Amongst various malachite artefacts, officials discovered a sealed container which contained different types of rough stones. On further inspection the following precious stones were found 143.35g of suspected gold; 63.54g of suspected black diamonds; 67.58g of suspected diamonds; 173.10g of suspected uncut industrial diamonds; 10.36g of suspected clear uncut diamonds; and 566.87g of suspected industrial diamonds,” he said.

“The estimated value of all suspected diamonds is R2,263,501 and the estimated value of the suspected gold is R17,497.”

The suspected stones were handed over to the SA Police Service and the suspects were taken into custody, he said.

He said in other cases, on August 25, about R5.075m worth of ephedrine (crystal methamphetamine) was found hidden in a truck driver’s bags at the Beitbridge border post. During a search of a truck transporting sugar from Malawi, officials discovered two undeclared bags in the driver’s cabin, Lebelo said.

“Inside the bag were shin guards that emitted a strong smell of glue. After opening the shin guards, officials found several small packages containing a white substance. A detector dog indicated the possibility of drugs. A drug test confirmed the substance to be ephedrine,” he said.

“A total of 179 packages weighing 14.5kg to the value of R5,075,000 were sealed and handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS). The suspect was handed over to the SAPS for further questioning.”

He said on August 26, Customs officials discovered 1190kg of cannabis with a street value of R1.6 million, in a truck attempting to enter the SA border from Lesotho at the Ficksburg border post.

On August 27, a Customs inspector at the OR Tambo International Airport mail centre discovered three boxes containing 60,000 male sexual enhancement pills, valued at R6m, which had been incorrectly declared and had no permit.

“The pills, which came from Hong Kong, were handed over to Port Health authorities for further investigation,” he said.

Lebelo said that on August 28, a passenger disembarking from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg was searched in the customs search area.

“The passenger was then taken for x-rays which showed foreign objects, indicating that the passenger had possibly swallowed drugs. She then passed 38 “bullets” which tested positive for Cocaine, valued at R138,996. The passenger was handed over to SAPS for further investigation and a case was opened for drug smuggling.” – ANA