Virgin boss skipped check-in, says Sars
NOT EVEN Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson is exempt from airport customs regulations, South African Revenue Services (Sars) warned yesterday.
The caution came after the billionaire businessman was involved in a heated exchange with customs officials at the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport this week over its procedures.
Branson and his small entourage had arrived at the airport on Monday, and skipped check-in at the airport’s customs desk.
Customs official Johannes Mahlangu, who was responsible for clearing international arrivals at the airport, noticed this and confronted the group, immediately summoning them back.
He told them international guests who failed to report to customs officials could be given a stiff penalty in terms of the Customs and Excise Act.
A R2 000 penalty was imposed, but it was later withdrawn after “on- the- spot” investigations disclosed airport officials had not informed Branson and the rest of his party of the need to report to the customs desk.
They immediately co-operated with Mahlangu when they were brought up to speed with customs procedures, Sars said yesterday.
While the taxman acknowledged the incident may have embarrassed or inconvenienced Branson and his entourage, officials said “enforcement of the law is for the good of the country and its reputation”.
Mahlangu had acted in accordance with standard procedure and carried out his legislative duties.
According to Sars, all officials are governed by a strict code of behaviour that compels them to treat clients with dignity and respect.