Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan has honoured the South African Police Service (SAPS) K9 search and rescue team, following the devastating earthquake that engulfed the country in February.
The K9 team was recognised for their incredible intervention in the earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria that claimed over 50 000 lives.
Brigadier Vimla Moodley was the commander tasked with leading the SAPS rescue and recovery operations, along with the Gift of the Givers Foundation rescue mission. Moodley, who hails from the Eastern Cape, received a medal of supreme sacrifice on behalf of the organisation.
Five sniffer dogs and their handlers were also recognised by the Türkiye government.
“The SAPS K9 team was among the first few rescue teams to arrive and successfully assisted in recovering and rescuing one live victim aged 90 after nine days of being trapped under the rubble and recovered over 200 bodies,” SAPS said in a statement.
The certificate from Erdogan was presented on Memorial Day, which is observed every year on the day before Independence commemoration.
SAPS National Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, says the team displayed excellence and expertise that exists within the organisation.
“It is an honour to lead such excellence. When approached to go and assist the Turkish, they didn’t hesitate to respond to the call of duty.
“Thank you to each one of the team members for representing the SAPS and our country with great pride. Many thanks to Brigadier Moodley for leading effortlessly,” Masemola said.
The SAPS K9 search and rescue teams have been involved in numerous recovery operations across the world including the Haiti 2010 earthquake.