Maputo — The Mozambican customs service has defended the seizure on 2 June of 28,800 sacks of cement (1,440 tonnes) imported from South Africa, despite the insistence by the importing company, Kawena, that such imports are exempt from customs duty.
Cited in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the press attaché of the National Customs Directorate, Fernando Tinga, said that the seizure of the imported cement was because Kawena did not present the legally required documentation at the time.
The import of any goods not accompanied by documents proving their legality constitutes contraband, said Tinga, and the customs service has the duty to act.
Kawena representative Candido Bila told the paper he could not understand why the cement had been seized, since for many years the company has transported and distributed goods belonging to Mozambican migrant workers living in South Africa, and all such material is exempt from taxes.
He admitted that, when the cement crossed the border, it did not have the necessary documents, but Kawena submitted the documents to the customs authorities two days later.
Tinga brushed this defence aside, and told the paper that, since no documents were presented on 2 June, customs had no choice but to seize the cement. The train hauling the wagons loaded with cement entered Mozambique at the Ressano Garcia border post, where customs officers are permanently on duty, and Tinga said the relevant documents should have been presented to these officers.
As for the documentation presented two days later, Tinga said they did not bear any stamp proving their authenticity. Work is thus still under way to check the legality of the import.
Tinga recognised that Kawena does indeed work on transporting goods owned by the Mozambican mineworkers in South Africa. However, those goods are only exempt from customs duties, if all the import formalities, including presentation of the relevant documents are complied with.