SARS Customs stops import of tik ingredient worth R40m at OR Tambo

SARS seized 67 pieces of calcium hydroxide, which is commonly used to make tik, at OR Tambo. The shipment came from Ethiopia.

The Customs unit of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) seized a stash of calcium hydroxide at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday, 13 September. The chemical is commonly used to produce crystal methamphetamine – more commonly known as “tik” in South Africa.


SARS said the 67 pieces of calcium hydroxide weighed 132.41 kilograms and were worth R40 million. It was seized at a cargo terminal at the Johannesburg airport after a Customs Detector Dog Unit noticed a driver acting suspiciously while collecting the cargo and loading his vehicle.

“The driver was approached and the officers requested an inspection. The officers found 67 blocks of an unknown substance that originated from Addis Ababa [Ethiopia],” said SARS. The Customs officers performed a drug test on the contents – which were declared as personal effects – and it tested positive for tik.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks) was notified about the tik detection and when they arrived at the scene, the substance was retested and it was confirmed that the suspicious substance was calcium hydroxide.

“The importer and driver were arrested. A criminal case was registered with the SAPS for further investigation,” said SARS. Earlier this year, in June, a mandrax import weighing 1746 kilograms worth R105 million was uncovered at OR Tambo. It was dispatched from Kenya.

“SARS, acting in concert with other law enforcement agencies, will spare no effort in confronting those involved in these crimes and stop the supply of these harmful drugs that threaten to derail the future of our country and destroy especially our youth,” said SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.

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