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2024/01/09      |  Written By:  Colonel P Naidu   |   Province:  Eastern Cape

In the law enforcement environment, the police K9 Search and Rescue teams, the unsung heroes consistently stands out for their exceptional performance of duties. These four-legged faithful officers and their handlers play a crucial role in locating missing persons, whether alive or deceased, rescue people from treacherous waters and their dedication to duty often goes unnoticed. Police K9 Search and Rescue teams showcase remarkable skills in tracking and locating missing individuals. Their acute sense of smell, agility, and intelligence make them indispensable assets in critical situations. These highly trained dogs, working in unison with their handlers, are able to cover vast areas swiftly and efficiently, significantly increasing the chances of finding individuals in distress. Their expertise extends beyond the urban environment to challenging terrains, including dense forests, mountains, and disaster-stricken areas.

The SAPS in the Eastern Cape recognises the outstanding performance of this unit especially during the Festive period where their expertise and knowledge were put to the test. On 3 January 2024 at about 23:00, SAPS Storms River were alerted to a suicide whereby a 57 year old man from Plettenberg Bay had driven his vehicle to the Bloukrans Bridge and abandoned it. The necessary roleplayers including the Gqeberha Search and Rescue Unit  were immediately contacted to commence searching for the person who in all probability would have jumped off the 216m bridge. On 4/01, W/O Etienne Gerber  located the body  and managed to secure it however due to the depth and terrain below the bridge, recovery was hampered and more resources were needed. Also due to the precipice, his K9 buddy ‘Misty’ remained on the bridge. On 5 /01 at about 14:30, the body was airlifted by the SANDF helicopter.

Also, on Thursday 4 January 2024, Sgt Songezile Katikati and his dog Ogi from the Mthatha Search and Rescue Unit  risked their lives in the line of duty by braving harsh weather conditions in order to bring closure to the family of a man who had drowned on 23 December 2023 while swimming in a dam in Mthatha. While manually operating his inflated rubberduck against strong winds, he also had to keep an eye on the body and his dog, Ogi. His gallant performance resulted in the safe retrieval of the badly decomposed body. The outstanding accomplishments of both W/O Gerber and Sgt Katikati deserves recognition as, in any police official’s  vocation, the risks they face every day is perilous yet rewarding.

The Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Nomthetheleli Mene expresses her gratitude to the dedicated officers and their canines in the Eastern Cape Search and Rescue Units who work diligently to bring solace to those in need. ‘The Search and Rescue Units truly embody the spirit of service and sacrifice, making them invaluable assets to our communities. The success stories of reuniting families and bringing closure to loved ones are a testament to the effectiveness of these specialized teams. Despite the inherent risks, these teams persevere, driven by a sense of duty and a commitment to serving their communities,’ added Lt Gen Mene.


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