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The mission of the Search and Rescue South Africa (SARZA) is to provide a competent, efficient volunteer emergency search and rescue services dedicated to saving human life and able to operate in rough and difficult terrain conditions alongside other search and rescue services in times of natural or man-made, civil disaster or emergency.

SARZA’s Mission Statement

SARZA is a highly-trained crew of volunteer 4×4 owners in South Africa with regional teams based in 5 of the 9 provinces.

The Unit works closely with local, regional and national Emergency Management Services, Disaster Management, the South African Air Force, Civil Aviation (Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre), South African Police Service, K9 Search and Rescue Association, the Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) and other official and civilian volunteer organisations.

The Unit provides wilderness and urban search and rescue services, transport, logistical support and radio communications, in rough terrain and urban areas in times of need including civil, national or international emergencies.

Each year, the Unit receives more than two hundred calls for assistance and in more than half of these instances, the Unit’s comprehensive emergency-assistance capabilities are required with members being mobilised and deployed.

Administrative structure

The Unit’s administrative structure is such that one telephone call is all that is required to put the whole call-out system into action. This results in trained volunteer members in fully-equipped 4×4 vehicles ready to leave on a search and rescue or disaster management mission, anywhere in the country within the hour.

The regional units are run independently, having their own constitutions and committees that could consist of the following members:

  • Chairman
  • Vice Chairman
  • Treasurer
  • Operations officer
  • Quartermaster
  • Training officer


SARZA has regional teams located in the following areas within South Africa:

  • Gauteng
  • Mpumalanga
  • Limpopo
  • Western Cape
  • KwaZulu-Natal
  • Free State

Emergency Contact Points

SARZA is a volunteer search and rescue organisation that responds to people whose lives may be in danger, this does not normally include the recovery of vehicles that have become stuck as a result of recreational activities.

If you need to make use of the Rescue Unit’s services, either in an Emergency or by prior arrangement for a particular event, please refer to this page.


SARZA works closely with the following organisations:

Local Emergency Management ServicesRegional Emergency Management Services
National Emergency Management ServicesPrivate Emergency Management Services
Disaster ManagementNational Sea Rescue Institute
Maritime Rescue Coordination CentreSouth African Air Force
Aeronautical Rescue Coordination CentreSouth African Police Services
K9 Search and RescueMountain Club of South Africa Search & Rescue

And other official and civilian volunteer organisations.