On Sunday 25 June 2006 two newspapers claimed that customs officials of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) at the Johannesburg International Airport (JIA) are working with criminal syndicates who target foreign diplomats upon their arrival in South Africa.
SARS rejects the suggestions that there is sustained or systematic collusion between its customs officials and criminal syndicates. In any country ? developed or developing - there are instances where individuals partake in corrupt activities or improper conduct.
SARS has a zero-tolerance approach against corruption or any form of bribery and has a demonstrable record of integrity. Allegations of collusion are misinformed at best or, at worst, isolated cases of individual misconduct. It can definitely not be part of the normal course of SARS' business operations.
It is equally regrettable that members of the diplomatic community chose the media as a vehicle to raise their concerns instead of bringing those concerns to the attention of SARS or, as a matter of protocol, to the attention of other Government institutions.
SARS calls on these foreign dignitaries and members of the diplomatic community to report any form of suspected criminal activity by a customs or any other SARS official directly to the office of the Commissioner.
Should such information be found to be credible or true SARS will act immediately and decisively against any corrupt officials in its ranks. Until such time SARS remains of the opinion that allegations of criminal or unethical conduct is without substance or validation.
SARS refutes allegations that its procedures incorporate improper methods or discrimination against groups of foreign nationals, and plans to contact representatives from all embassies or high commissions quoted in the news reports and will ask them to submit information that would allow SARS to investigate the matter further.
ISSUED BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN REVENUE SERVICE