Premier Presents R100 000 to NSRI:Cape Holiday Safety Paramount
"The men and women of the NSRI stand at the forefront of sea rescue - weaving an almost invisible safety net around the people of the Western Cape and the ever-increasing number of visitors to our shores." These were the words of Western Cape Premier, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, speaking on Friday at the NSRI Western Cape headquarters at the V & A Waterfront.
"Although it is during the peak tourist season, over the major holidays, that they are most visible, the Western Cape's 18 NSRI rescue bases and 450 volunteers are on duty day and night throughout the year," said the Premier. "Since 1967 they have saved more than 1920 lives in more than 11670 operations - and this year alone the NSRI Cape Region has been responsible for almost half of the 400 sea rescues undertaken in South Africa. In the Cape much of this work is to assist the fishermen from many of our poorest communities who risk their lives to put food on the table for their families."
Speaking about the purpose of his visit, the Premier said: "It is therefore my great pleasure today to present to the NSRI a cheque for R100 000 to assist with the operational costs at the Cape Sea Rescue Bases and particularly to the Strandfontein Base for the replacement of their 4x4 rescue vehicle ahead of the Christmas and New Year's rush to the beaches."
This holiday season, as is their normal practice, the NSRI crews will be manning their 30 rescue bases around the country, but will also be on hand at many of the beaches - both in prime tourism locations and in areas more popular with our local communities - to offer primary first aid. They will also assist with manning the SA Air Force Air-Sea Rescue Unit and will remain on standby to crew the Skymed II helicopter.
"The annual running costs of the NSRI amount to just short of R8 million," said the Premier, "But in the 2003/4 financial year, this R100 000 is the only funding that they have received from any sphere of Government - in spite of the fact that it is believed the NSRI saves South Africa in the region of R70 million every year."
The balance of the NSRI budget is covered by personal donations, corporate contributions, fund-raising events, legacies and competitions.
The Premier also used his visit as an opportunity to pay his respects to the memory of Mr Perry Ment - a senior crewmember of the Melkbosstrand NSRI who died last Sunday after a successful rescue off Kleinmond. Presenting a wreath to the NSRI, which will later be cast upon the waters, the Premier said: "Too often the heroes of our people remain unsung, unrecognised and under-appreciated. On behalf of the people and the Government of the Western Cape I want today to pay tribute to the memory of Perry Ment - but also to each and every staff member and volunteer of the NSRI who puts their own lives on the line in service of others. True heroes all."
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