SAPS lauds search, rescue team for Turkiye recovery efforts

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National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, has hailed the organisation’s K-9 Search and Rescue (SAR) team deployed to earthquake ravaged Turkiye for search and recovery efforts.

The team consisting of five K-9 dogs and their handlers and a team leader departed for Turkiye on 9 February 2023, said SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe.

For the past week, the team has led numerous search operations for survivors and to recover the bodies of deceased victims.

The SAPS K-9 search and rescue dogs are trained and used to search for missing persons and recover dead bodies. They also detect human scent and remains and are able to find victims of floods and collapsed buildings.

Mathe said among the successes achieved by the team was the recovery of an 80-year-old elderly woman who was found alive in a collapsed building.

“The SAPS takes this opportunity to commend the following members who have represented the organisation and South Africa with great pride,” she said.

Team leader, Brigadier Vimla Moodley, is the current serving Provincial Head in the Eastern Cape for Police Emergency Services (PES).

Warrant Officer Tinalia Gouws is a K-9 search and rescue handler attached to the Lydenberg K-9 unit in Mpumalanga.

Warrant Officer Martin Bann is a K-9 search and rescue handler attached to the Benoni K-9 unit in Gauteng.

Warrant Officer Keagan Naidoo is a K-9 search and rescue handler attached to the Johannesburg K-9 unit in Gauteng.

Warrant Officer Len Willemse is a K-9 search and rescue handler attached to the Pretoria K-9 unit in Gauteng.

Sergeant Jennifer Seleka is a K-9 search and rescue handler attached to the Mahikeng K-9 search and rescue unit in North West.

Masemola said the team are the epitome of pockets of excellence that exist in the organisation.

“The team has been hard at work, searching and locating victims. We are happy to hear that our role yielded significant results and we were able to provide closure to the people of Turkiye. On behalf of the SAPS, I would like to pay gratitude to the team who have displayed commitment and dedication to the cause of serving,” said General Masemola.

The team are set to arrive back in South Africa on Saturday.