In a statement, SARS spokesperson Luther Lebelo said: “SARS discovered close to 10kg of cocaine hidden in 10 handbags in a false compartment of a passenger’s luggage on Monday 25 May 2015.
“Customs officers stopped a Guyanese female passenger who had disembarked at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg in transit from Sao Paolo to Maputo. The passenger was brought to the search area where her luggage was removed from the transit flight and searched.
“During inspection, cocaine weighing 9.985kg, valued at R2 872 684, was found concealed in 10 handbags in a false compartment of her luggage. The passenger was handed over to the SAPS for further investigation.”
SARS said that during the 2014/2015 financial year there had been eight incidents at ORTIA where the modus operandi was using handbags to conceal narcotics. The weight of the seizures varied, with the lowest being 2.895kg and the highest 16.82kg. This concealment method allowed for smugglers to attempt to bring in large quantities, as opposed to swallowers and those that use body wraps, it said.
“Regardless of the smugglers’ attempts to deceive Customs by concealing narcotics in handbags, vigilant and alert customs officials continue to intercept suspects using such concealment methods,” Lebelo said. “SARS will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that illicit substances, such as narcotics, are prevented from entering or leaving our country.”