Good news for the poultry master plan. Arrests for tax evasion and other offences relating to imported chicken could be a breakthrough in the master plan campaign to prevent illegal trade.
Police in Gauteng province said that two men and a woman have been arrested for fraud, corruption and contravention of the Customs and Excise Act. Some 27 000 kg of poultry meat was found at a storage facility in City Deep in Gauteng, police said, and four containers of poultry meat in another location where the owner could allegedly not produce legal papers.
In addition, one of the men is alleged to have offered police a bribe of R800 000 to avoid arrest. Police said the officers had followed up on intelligence information about people who were diverting goods to avoid paying customs duties and value added tax.
Little more is known at this stage, and further details are awaited. There could be much more to come.
Who were the people arrested? Were the alleged suspects chicken importers, or had they bought the consignments from another party? Where had the poultry come from and where was it being sent to? Are further arrests expected?
These are the first arrests announced since the SA Revenue Service (SARS) became part of a poultry master plan task team dedicated to identifying and combatting illegal trade in chicken, such as under-declaration or mis-declaration of product to reduce of avoid import duties and taxes.
If the matter comes to trial, all involved in the poultry industry will take a keen interest in the proceedings.