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  • SARS official in prison for taking bribes to export Rolex watches

    SARS official in prison for taking bribes to export Rolex watches

    A South African Revenue Service (SARS) employee has been sentenced for accepting bribes to export Rolex watches.


    The SARS official, Malatse Kolokoto, worked at Customs at the OR Tambo International Airport.

    Back in 2019, he accepted bribes from a Hong Kong citizen. In exchange for cash, Kolokoto helped Kin-Man Tran to deal in Rolex watches.

    The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said this was against the provisions of the Customs Act.

    But Kolokoto was caught red-handed through CCTV footage. The footage showed the SARS official meeting with the Hong Kong citizen, Tran, at international departures at the airport, spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said.

    “During the said meeting, the accused received documentation from Tran and although off-duty, headed to a Customs workstation and stamped the documentation. The accused returned and handed the documentation back to Tran.”

    Phindi Mjonondwane

    According to SARS, Tran was apprehended by a Customs official as he was about to leave on an international flight.

    “He was requested to declare all goods at his disposal whereupon he produced six Rolex wristwatches from his backpack without any declaration form. He was arrested, which later led to the arrest of the accused,” SARS said.

    A SARS Customs official was caught at the OR Tambo International Airport assisting a Hong Kong citizen to deal in Rolex watches. PHOTO: https://johannesburg-airport.co.za/

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    The SARS employee was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for corruption by the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court on Thursday.

    He was also convicted of contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act for accepting gratification as a public officer, said Mjonondwane.

    Senior State Advocate Marius Oosthuizen pleaded with the court to impose a sentence that will serve to deter corruption among public officers.

    “Oosthuizen argued that Kolokoto’s conduct as a public officer was to be judged on a higher standard. His actions of accepting gratification in return for the incomplete and irregular exercise of his duties required an appropriate sanction. He argued that Malatse abused his position of authority to enrich himself at the cost of the State,” said Mjonondwane.

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    SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter commended the courageous Customs officer for not only noticing Tran but for also arresting Kolokoto.

    “True to SARS value of honesty, integrity and acting without fear, favour or prejudice, the SARS Customs Officer resisted to collaborate with criminality or look the other way when one of his fellow officers acted contrary to these values.”

    “SARS is placed in a position of trust to ensure that the laws we administer are laws scrupulously and diligently implemented. Anyone who abuses this position of trust, deserves the heaviest sentence,” said Kieswetter.

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