Article by Annalise Kempen
Photos by Kotie Geldenhuys
"If you give what can be taken, you are not really giving. Take what you are given, not what you want to be given. Give what cannot be taken." - Idries Shab.
There are probably very few people who do not love receiving a gift, and sometimes, even something as “insignificant” as a certificate, a small trophy and a big “thank you” will suffice. For the past 21 years, Tracker has done exactly this by acknowledging excellence by saying "thank you" to police members across the country who deserved special recognition in the fight against vehicle-related crime. The coveted Tracker awards aim to honour law enforcement officers and units whose efforts, in using the Tracker system, have made a significant impact on the recovery of stolen and hijacked vehicles in South Africa. The process starts with nominations and awards on a provincial level, whereafter the respective unit and individual provincial winners gather at the national awards ceremony awaiting the announcement of the national winners.
The awards are made after the judges have applied strict criteria to select the nominees and overall winners for each category. The criteria include making an outstanding contribution in the area of vehicle crime investigation, the number of recoveries and arrests, outstanding efforts in coordinating recovery actions and outstanding contributions to the training of members. The finalists are chosen from a group of over 90 individual nominees and 40 units nationally.
On 24 October 2019, Brig Makhosazana Kheswa, representing the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Vehicle Task Team and Sgt Lucas Jacobs from the Kimberley Flying Squad received their awards as the respective unit and individual winners. Working in a province where approximately 17% of the total vehicle-related crimes are committed, the KwaZulu-Natal SAPS Provincial Vehicle Task Team members have their work cut out for them. In addition to the tracking of sought-after motor vehicles, the members of this team have been instrumental with Mobile Tracking Unit (MTU) operations and observation on recovered motor vehicles. This team is often called upon to assist the Tracker Ops team with high profile recoveries and arrests because of their unique skills and understanding of vehicle-related crime. They assist with the deployment of MTUs and are involved in observation and take-down operations. Although the team is based in Durban, they have been called upon to assist with operational issues throughout the province, including the northern KwaZulu-Natal areas bordering Mozambique and Swaziland. The team members have been responsible for the recovery of 228 Tracker-fitted vehicles; made 43 arrests, recovered eight firearms and recovered a further 21 non-Tracker-fitted vehicles in the course of their recoveries.
Sgt Lucas Jacobs from the Kimberley Flying Squad who received the national individual award, made numerous arrests and recovered stolen and hijacked vehicles using Tracker's vehicle tracking technology. During the past year, he assisted with the recovery of more than ten vehicles, some of which were not Tracker-fitted vehicles, and the arrest of eight suspects. Sgt Jacobs is a dedicated policeman and is always available to assist with recoveries.
The winners received a certificate, a small gift as a token of appreciation, an invitation to attend the 68th Annual IAATI Training Seminar 2020 in Chicago, and a cheque payable to the charity organisation of their choice to the value of R10 000.