K9 Unit drug awareness show a hit with pupils

Officers Relton Serebolo and Randall Huyser at the Metro Police’s K9 dog unit programme in Manenberg. Ayanda Ndamane African News agency (ANA)
Sniffer dogs from the Metro Police’s K9 Unit and their handlers held pupils of Rio Grande Primary School in Manenberg spellbound with a drug awareness show that demonstrated the dogs’ skills in sniffing out drugs, guns and ammunition.

The show also demonstrated to the 650 pupils and teachers gathered on the school’s sports field yesterday morning how the dogs were trained to track and help arrest criminals and suspects.

A feature of the show involved dog handler officers Relton Serebolo and Ricardo Baines unleashing their dogs on a colleague, Randall Huyser, who wore heavy protective gear to prevent being bitten by the fierce dogs.

They also sniffed out hidden items on the field and responded to their handlers’ various instructions to either charge, sit down or release a suspect.

Principal, Brenda Manuel said: “I think it had a good impact on the pupils. “I think it was informative and exciting for our pupils because they experience this on a daily basis. They live in areas where these (drugs and gangsterism) things happen.

“For them to be informed of how these dogs are trained and how these dogs can help in getting drugs and ammunition and guns out of circulation will make them aware that when they see something criminal happening out there, they need to speak out, because in the long run, it is for their own safety and for them to have a better environment.”

The drug awareness show was one of dozens hosted across the metro every year, said mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith. “Our service animals are a menace to criminals, but can also put their best paw forward when it comes to raising awareness and education.

“They are a hit among children and law-abiding adults and play an integral role in relationship-building between the Metro Police Department and members of the public,” said Smith. “Our K9s undergo rigorous training and are able to sniff out narcotics and other contraband in the most interesting places.

“Drug dealers have become extremely creative with how they hide their product, so the canines are critical to our efforts to detect contraband that might otherwise be left undiscovered,” he added.

The unit comprised 25 canines, 20 of which were on active duty and specialised in the detection of narcotics, explosives and copper, Smith said.