There will be no Christmas bonus for the two Mozambicans who allegedly tried to smuggle almost R70 million in cash hidden in a secret compartment of their bakkie into South Africa on Christmas Day last year.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted an order to the national director of public prosecutions declaring the almost $5 million, more than €22 000 and R20 000 found hidden in a bakkie at the Lebombo border post near Komatipoort in Mpumalanga be forfeited to the state.
The bakkie, which had custom-made hidden compartments in its loading bin, was also declared forfeited to the state. Deputy director of public prosecutions Priyadarshnee Biseswar said in an affidavit the cash was seized from two Mozambicans, Faizel Assane and Amade Abdulah, when their 2014 Toyota Hilux double cab bakkie was searched by customs officials at the border.
Assane, the registered owner of the bakkie, had bought the vehicle for R413 500 in cash just a few days earlier. The two men were arrested on a range of charges and go on trial in the Nelspruit Regional Court later this year.
Mozambican law enforcement authorities are also conducting an investigation to establish the possible crimes that may have been committed in Mozambique regarding the cash. Biseswar said it appeared from a police investigation that the Mozambicans were allegedly about to take the cash, which was apparently destined for the Middle East via Dubai, out of SA through OR Tambo International Airport in Joburg.
Assane had 11 and Abdulah five Mozambican passports. She said the probabilities were overwhelming that the cash and the bakkie had been used as instruments to commit a range of crimes, ranging from contravening the Customs and Banks Acts and exchange control regulations to money laundering and tax fraud.
The head of the police’s electronic crime unit, Brigadier Nicolaas Pieterse, said in an affidavit the case was consistent with a particular modus operandi adopted by suspects such as Assane and Abdulah to smuggle illicit bulk cash through South Africa and out of the country.