Top K9 cop honoured for rescue work abroad

National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola hands the SAPS National Commissioner’s Award to Brigadier Vimla Moodley. | SUPPLIED

National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola hands the SAPS National Commissioner’s Award to Brigadier Vimla Moodley. | SUPPLIED

Published Feb 26, 2024

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Durban — Brigadier Vimla Moodley, the national section head of SAPS K9 Search and Rescue, received top honours at the SAPS Excellence Awards held last week.

Moodley, who is also the national head officer of the SAPS K9 and Mounted Services countrywide, was bestowed with the SAPS National Commissioner’s Award.

Moodley, from the Eastern Cape, was assigned by the SAPS management to lead a South African K9 Search and Rescue team which was deployed to Türkiye in February 2023 after the devastating earthquake that claimed thousands of lives and left many families without shelter.

She led her K9 Unit team during the rescue mission in Türkiye, where they rescued an 80-year-old woman who had been buried under the rubble after a building collapsed during the earthquake.

“During the Türkiye deployment, I had five K9 handlers and dogs. I was excited but at the same time unsure what to expect, especially with the magnitude of the earthquake and also the aftershocks. It was such an honour to assist in such a disaster and be selected to lead the team,” she said.

Moodley said it was heartbreaking and tough to witness survivors who lost loved ones, and to see the pain in their eyes.

“The other was the demand where a family member would see you with the dogs and approach you to come and please search the buildings for their loved ones.”

She also received the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Humanitarian Service and Certificate of Supreme Sacrifice from the president of Türkiye in April last year for her rescue efforts.

The SAPS last week held their annual excellence awards, where Moodley received her distinguished accolade.

The award is given to those who epitomise bravery and duty. The National Excellence Awards encourage innovation and reinforce a culture of excellence within the organisation to ensure that all employees continue to deliver professional services to communities.

“I was awarded the National Commissioner’s Award for excellent work on behalf of the team, which is a high award in the SAPS. My team will also receive a certificate and monetary award. However, they were not able to be present for the awards ceremony.”

Moodley said she became emotional when her name was called.

“I was overwhelmed but deeply honoured to be presented with this phenomenal award. As women, it helps put us on the map where our capabilities are noticed and acknowledged, especially leading a high-risk team.

“I am hoping that my experience and the exposure inspires, motivates and encourages other women to join the K9 units and search and rescue team. Nothing is impossible if they have the correct mindset,” said Moodley.

Sunday Tribune

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