South Africa goes high-tech to stop fraud

24 July 2015

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) introduced a new, state-of-the-art container scanner at the Cape Town harbour on Wednesday.

This is the second scanner of its kind in South Africa; the first one was installed in Durban. It will be used to clamp down on illegal trade, which robs the country of millions of rand in unpaid duties and taxes.

“With the new high-tech scanners in Durban and Cape Town, Sars is doing end-to-end integrated cargo scanning for the first time,” the organisation said.

“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.”

Game over for criminals

Sars commissioner Tom Moyane told Fin24 that “we should deter those who would like to avoid paying their fair value in terms of customs. That game is over.”

The scanner cost R38.5-million but Moyane said this was a worthwhile price. “You want to talk about return on investment? Let’s talk numbers: R986-billion is what we collected. Customs contributed approximately 9% to 10%.

“Utilisation of the scanners is to deter and detect that which we would not have been able to bring into the fiscus. So if we used the scanners a year before, we could have collected close to a trillion (rand),” he explained.

How it works

The scanners use X-ray technology coupled with radiation scanning to detect up to 40 different materials, including aluminium, steel, plastic, and organic components, according to the technology news website, MyBroadband Business Tech.

It is also able to scan through 380mm of solid steel, and cargo can be scanned in under 12 minutes. Sars aims to complete a hundred inspections a day.

The radiation portal will also be able to tip off customs officials if radioactive material is being smuggled.

SAinfo reporter