Gauteng, October 6, 2014 - South Africa's finest crime-fighters were praised on Friday at the 2014 National Tracker-SAPS Awards by Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko. The Ermelo K9 Unit, under the command of Captain Ronnie Schilling, were awarded Best Unit, while Sergeant Johnny Jaftha from Cape Town Flying Squad received top honours as Best Individual. Tracker SAPS Awards 2014 Celebrating 20 years of democracy and 15 years of the Tracker-SAPS Awards, the event acknowledges the law enforcement officers and units, whose efforts in the use of Tracker technology and tracking devices, have made a significant impact on the recovery of stolen and hijacked vehicles, contributing to the fight against crime in South Africa. Amid a packed house of finalists from units, high-ranking police officials, insurance partners, and Crime Line, Minister Nhleko - attending his first Tracker-SAPS Awards since taking his position - paid tribute to the leaders in the fight against crime. He said, "It is no accident that we, as the South African Police Service, have chosen the theme building a united front against crime and corruption, because we realise the importance of forging meaningful partnerships with all stakeholders, so that all South Africans must be safe, and feel safe. The National Development Plan also urges the building of partnerships as the game-changer in achieving the future this country hopes to achieve. And safety cannot be achieved without the involvement of business, and without them sharing their expertise and their resources." With more than 1400 Police Tracking Devices fitted on police vehicles, Nhleko said, "This partnership with Tracker is a living example of what can be achieved by pooling resources. To date, the partnership has achieved 68 000 recoveries, which has led them to more than 13 000 arrests." He added, "It is a classic example of how technology can, and should be, used in crime fighting endeavours. For our purposes, technology should enable us to stay ahead of criminal enterprises and deal with crime and criminals, and we must keep the pressure on. In spite of all that has been achieved by the Tracker-SAPS partnership, it is crucial that we continually innovate and consider new and clever ways to curtail crime in general, and vehicle crime in particular - which is often at the centre of violent crimes such as armed robbery, murder, cash in transit heists, and so on." Award criteria was based upon outstanding contribution in the area of vehicle crime investigation, number of vehicle recoveries, and arrests, as well as outstanding efforts in coordinating recovery actions. Winners received a certificate, personalised trophy, a cheque payable to the charity organisation nominated by the recipient to the value of R10 000, and an invitation to attend the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators Annual Training Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Tracker has so far committed over R7m to the Tracker/SAPS Bursary Scheme, which provides tertiary education bursaries to the children of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty, and has already benefited 40 students from across the country who have graduated, and are now working in corporate South Africa, government departments, and several individuals now working at Tracker. The Minister concluded his presence at the event saying, "Let us intensify and consolidate this good work. It is comforting to see that a number of our police are focused in their work in the fight against crime. Individual members, and collectively as a service, we need to step up our efforts to improve community police efforts, and we will be able to yield better results in the fight against crime in South Africa." By MJ Wides at 6 Oct 2014‚Äč