File photo: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials have arrested a student who allegedly had US dollars to the value of nearly R10 million in her hand luggage when she boarded a flight at OR Tambo International Airport.

Sars spokesperson Sicelo Mkosi said in a statement the money amounted to $630 700. The cash had been packed in $50 and $100 bundles in a plastic bag.

Mkosi said the money amounted to $630 700. The student’s flight to Hong Kong was scheduled to leave on Tuesday when the officers apprehended her. 

“Initially, she denied having currency in her possession, but after further questioning, she admitted that she had a substantial amount of money in her backpack,” Mkosi said. 

He said she was taken to the customs search area, where she was placed in an interview room and asked to complete a traveller card.

“The passenger verbally stated that she had 650 000 United States dollars in her bag. She admitted that she was not the owner of the currency, nor could she supply any proof of ownership,” Mkosi said. 

A criminal case of smuggling currency and failure to declare it has been registered, he said.

“Sars remains appreciative of the constructive collaboration between Acsa (the Airports Company of SA), SAPS (SA Police Service), DPCI (Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation), Asset Forfeiture Unit (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA), which is yielding positive results in the fight against the scourge of illicit financial flows,” said Beyers Theron, acting chief officer: customs and excise.