Police ‘snub’ offer of sniffer dogs for Cup

Arms parastatal Denel says it is concerned about the South African Police Service’s ability to counter the threat of explosives and drug trafficking during the Fifa World Cup after its offer of a detection system met with a lukewarm reception from the SAPS.

Allister Gibbons, a police veteran and head of the dog unit at Mechem, a Denel subsidiary, said his unit had offered the police a dog-driven system for detecting explosives and contraband, “but had no response, except [from] Mpumalanga”.

Gibbons said the system was used by the South African Air Force to sweep President Jacob Zuma’s plane. His unit also trained two dogs for the army in 2001. The Explosives and Drugs Detection System (EDDS) uses “remote odour-detection technology”, where trained dogs sniff an air sample vacuumed from vehicles or luggage at ports of entry, or during security sweeps.

Mechem dog behaviourist Hannes Slabbert said studies had shown that no other detection system “came close” to trained dogs. Mechem had 12 dogs “on the shelf” for potential use at the World Cup, he said.

The Mail & Guardian has been reliably told that South Africa has a serious shortage of trained dogs and handlers. A source said the police had struggled for years to acquire dogs suitable for training in bomb and drug detection, and had toppled from its one-time position as world leader in canine training.

“KwaZulu-Natal [police] had about 280 dogs in 1994 or 1995, and now only has five dogs trained to detect explosives and drugs,” said the source, who revealed that it takes up to 20 dogs to sweep a stadium before a match. This did not take into account the dogs needed for other sweeps and activities such as crowd control.

Police did not respond to M&G questions about how they intended addressing the drugs and explosives threat during the tournament, and the availability of trained dogs.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Southwestern hospitality

A backpackers in Soweto is brimming with tourists here for football and a taste of authentic South African culture.

Mpshe’s new job under fire

The appointment of former acting prosecutions head Mokotedi Mpshe as an acting judge on the North West bench may be unconstitutional.

Radebe job-hunts for Mpshe

Justice minister in 'highly unusual' campaign to find post on Bench for former acting NPA chief.

KZN police station cooked crime stats

In a breakthrough investigation, the ICD has found that crime statistics at Mountain Rise police station in Pietermaritzburg were manipulated.

SAPS recruitment drive may misfire

Researchers and the police trade union have warned that the South African Police Service's drive to lure back 50 000 retired officers could founder.

From SOS to VIP

Ermelo has come up with an innovative solution to ease the trauma of crime-hit tourists

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Fees free fall, independent schools close

Parents have lost their jobs or had salaries cut; without state help the schools just can’t survive

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

White men still rule and earn more

Women and black people occupy only a few seats at the JSE table, the latest PwC report has found

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday