Three caught with gold bars at OR Tambo International
Gold bars are displayed at South Africa's Rand Refinery in Germiston, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Three suspects are expected to appear before the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court after they were caught smuggling 73.5 kg of gold at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in their hand luggage.

or tambo gold smugglers case
3 men were apprehended at OR Tambo for smuggling gold bars. Photo: SAPS

The gold bars were detected by a security scanner which identified irregular images. A multi-disciplinary team was alerted by the security officials, and the three suspects were detained at the international arrivals terminal.

The three men had apparently arrived in South Africa from Madagascar, and were en route to Dubai, via Ethiopia, when they were apprehended last week.

“Upon questioning of the suspects and further inspection of their hand luggage, officials discovered the gold bars and some foreign currency,” said police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe.

She said both the gold bars and foreign currency have been seized for further investigation under the Customs and Excise Act and the Exchange Control Regulation.

The suspects have been detained and the matter has been taken over by the SAPS Organised Crime unit for criminal investigations.

While investigations continue, the Hawks (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) through Interpol is in talks with authorities in Madagascar, Dubai and Ethiopia to establish where this gold originates from and to where it was destined; and to determine the legitimacy of the certification papers provided by the men. –

UPDATE on OR Tambo gold smuggling case:

The three accused men have appeared before the Kempton Park Magistrates’ Court and are each facing charges of illegal dealing in precious metals and the contravention of the Customs Act, confirmed SAPS on Monday late afternoon.

“There is a possibility that money laundering and fraud charges will be brought forward against the three accused at a later stage,” said SAPS. “The matter has been postponed to 12 January 2021 for further investigation and formal bail application.”