The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has unveiled a new high-technology cargo container scanner at Cape Town Harbour.
The scanner is the second of its kind to be acquired by SARS Customs in its fight against the illicit economy which robs South Africa of millions of rands in unpaid duties and taxes every year and puts the security of citizens at risk.
The use of non-intrusive inspection tools is part of SARS’s strategic plan to clamp down on non-complaint behaviour, while still facilitating legitimate trade, the revenue collector said.
In 2014 a state-of-the art cargo scanner was introduced in Durban harbour, replacing the previous mobile scanner which had been in operation since 2008.
On 22 June 2015, Cape Town’s very first cargo scanner became operational; while the refurbished Durban mobile scanner is scheduled for deployment at Beitbridge in December 2015.
SARS noted that Beitbridge border is where it finds a high prevalence in cigarette smuggling.
“With the new high-tech scanners in Durban and Cape Town, SARS is doing end-to-end integrated cargo scanning for the first time.”
“In other words, our risk engine, case management system and scanner software is now integrated into one solution that is automated and real-time, with the whole process recorded on the SARS system from beginning to end,” SARS said.
The new cargo scanners use X-ray technology with dual radiation scanning and can show the difference between 40 different types of materials including aluminium, steel, plastic, and organic.
They can even pick up 1mm copper wire and can scan through up to 380mm of solid steel.
The new scanners also have a radiation portal, which will give Customs the ability to check whether any radioactive material is being smuggled, SARS said.
From a business perspective, if Customs were to unpack suspicious containers, three containers could be done a day.
SARS said it aims to do a hundred inspections a day on a highly targeted and non-intrusive basis. SARS can scan in under 12 minutes, it said.
The new integrated scanning process will also help eliminate fraud, theft and bribery, because all actions are recorded as cases.
The same principle applies to Customs’ new baggage scanners, which are currently being installed at 10 different Customs offices around the country.
The first new baggage scanners were installed at the Durban Mail Centre and King Shaka International Airport in June 2015, followed by Beitbridge and Maseru Bridge earlier this month.
Over the next few months, new baggage scanners will also have been installed at Cape Town International Airport, Cape Town Mail Centre, OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg Mail Centre, Kopfontein on the border with Botswana, and Lebombo on the border with Mozambique.
“Since the new Durban scanner became operational in August 2014, there have been over 9,000 examinations to date.”
“Of these, there have been 188 successes. In other words, the the scan has identified cargo in which there has been non-declaration or false declaration, misclassification of goods, or prohibited and restricted goods smuggled in through false compartments and other concealment methods,” SARS said.