Customs House, home to the South African Revenue Service's Customs operations in Durban, was earlier today robbed by armed gunmen.
Seven men entered Customs House at 8.30am and held up SARS staff in the cash hall. They escaped with R70 000 from the safe and fled in two vehicles. No-one was hurt in the incident.
Vigilant staff and members of the public managed to take down the registration numbers of the getaway vehicles and police have launched a manhunt for those responsible.
The staff members involved are being treated for shock and the office has been temporarily closed to allow police to conduct a full investigation. It is anticipated that the office will reopen later today.
SARS Commissioner Pravin Gordhan is currently in Durban and visited Customs House within 45 minutes of being informed of the incident to reassure staff.
Customs House, a landmark building on Victoria Embankment at the entrance to the harbour, is primarily used by members of the public for import and export-related activities, most particularly forwarding and clearing agents.
From January 17 next year, these operations - including the cash hall - will relocate to Albany House just two blocks south on Victoria Embankment. The new building, which is currently being renovated, offers increased security and convenience for customers. Customs House will remain a SARS office, housing Customs enforcement operations and anti-smuggling.
In the interim, security at Customs House will be tightened in light of the incident. The incident has also highlighted the benefits of SARS offices operating in a cash-free environment, a transition currently being promoted by SARS.
For further information please contact Tasneem Carrim on 082 467 9227 or Marco Granelli on 082 448 0888
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE