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Three South African Revenue Service (Sars) Customs officers turned down a bribe of $30 000 (R396,0000) by a passenger they had apprehended at OR Tambo International Airport this week.

According to Sars, the passenger who was traveling to Dubai on Tuesday was removed from his flight before take-off for questioning after he was flagged by Sars' risk unit. The passenger had no checked-in luggage and only one backpack, which was extremely heavy.

“On the way to the customs search area, he repeatedly offered the two customs officers bundles of currency in return for allowing him to leave with his backpack. Both refused this request,” Sars said in a statement on Friday.

“They were then joined by a Customs manager in the interview room and the passenger again offered them all bundles of currency in order to secure his release. “The offer was increased to $30,000 and was consistently refused by the Customs officials in the interview room.”

The entire interaction, including searching of his bag which contained $334,895 (R4.4 million) was captured on CCTV cameras in the Customs control room. A criminal case was registered with the police for attempted bribery, false declaration, and failure to declare. The passenger was remanded.

In the second incident on Tuesday, two passengers bound for Dubai were intercepted at ORTIA for being in possession of undeclared currency. The male passenger was taken to the Customs search area and three of his bags were searched. Customs officers found the equivalent of more than R600,000 in US dollars and Pakistani Rupees hidden in his laptop bag. 

A criminal case of failure to declare was registered at the ORTIA police station and the passenger was remanded into custody.

- African News Agency (ANA)