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Gelvenor and DuPont provide 50 canine bullet resistant vests to Shongweni K9 Unit

The need for protective measures to assist with keeping the K9 Officers safe on duty was identified in 2006 by DuPont and Gelvenor Textiles.

1st June 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Mpumalanga


Police dogs are critical to numerous operations including narcotics and explosive detection, tracking and the apprehension of criminals. Considering the important role that these dogs play and the life-threatening situations they are often put in, it has become a necessity to protect them.

Last week, 50 Canine Bullet Resistant vests were handed over by the Gelvenor CEO and DuPont Segment Leader for Kevlar Life Protection Sub-Saharan Africa, Allen Chimhandamba, to the Shongweni K9 Unit, where they will be utilised and distributed to other Units in the Durban area.

DuPont Segment Leader for Kevlar Life Protection Sub-Saharan Africa, Allen Chimhandamba, K9 Oscar and Dicky Coetzee (Gelvenor Chief Executive). © Gelvenor

“It is important for companies to be involved with social responsibility projects within their communities. Gelvenor has tried to select projects which allow us to use our products and expertise to provide solutions for local community needs which we have identified,” said Coetzee.

Protective measures

The need for protective measures to assist with keeping the K9 Officers safe on duty was identified some time ago by DuPont and Gelvenor Textiles. In 2006 DuPont and Gelvenor combined their market knowledge and expertise to produce a tactical solution to protect K9 Officers from various threats in the field.

Gelvenor wove the aramid fabric and DuPont oversaw the manufacture of the canine vests, developing larger vests for big breeds such as Rottweilers and German Shepherds, and smaller vests for medium breeds like the Malinois.

“Gelvenor believes strongly in developing local value chain projects, and cooperation with suppliers is very important,” explained Gelvenor CEO Dicky Coetzee. “For this reason, we partnered with DuPont to promote Gelvenor and the Kevlar brand.”

Supply complications

Allen Chimhandamba stated: “This opportunity came to give back to the community. Sustainability is at the core of what DuPont do, with the opportunity to grow the Kevlar brand within local communities. We appreciate Gelvenor’s assistance with this initiative.”

Volunteer at the K9 Unit, Debbie Smith, Dicky Coetzee (Gelvenor Chief Executive), K9 Oscar, Allen Chimhandamba(DuPont Segment Leader for Kevlar Life Protection Sub-Saharan Africa) and Colin Buckthorp (Warrant Officer). © Gelvenor

It was a challenge to get the vests into the field. Once they were manufactured (each vest costing approximately R5000.00) and ready for distribution, various supply complications resulted in the vests being placed into storage. The discussion to supply the vests into the K9 Units was reopened by Gelvenor in 2015.

“The Shongweni K9 Unit has a very high success rate when it comes to fighting serious crime over a large territory, and we wanted to ensure that our local K9 Officers are afforded the same protection as their human colleagues,” explained Coetzee.

Earlier this year, Debbie Smith, a civilian who volunteers at the K9 Unit in Shongweni, assisted with arranging a demonstration which consisted of placing one of the Canine Bullet Resistant Vests onto a K9 officer at the facility. Due to the K9 reacting favourably to the vest, the Unit was able to commit to accepting the 50 vests originally intended to go into circulation. “Thanks to Gelvenor and DuPont for this generous donation,” says Smith. “This will go a long way to protect the dogs in combatting crime and in turn also protect the handlers and the public.”

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