Welcome to South African Search and Rescue Organisation (SASAR)

South African Search and Rescue (SASAR) Organisation History

Prior to 1958, there was no single organisation responsible for Search and Rescue in South Africa. In the event of an accident at sea a Port Captain would take the necessary action as he deemed would be to best advantage and the people he called upon for help would assist as best as they could.

Similarly, the aviation authorities, the SAAF, SAPS and telephone exchanges always assisted where necessary. The shipping and aviation activity increased to such an extent that there was a need for a dedicated organisation in line with International standards. Then the Minister of Transport instructed that a permanent committee, embracing all the Government Departments which could contribute services or the facilities for search and rescue, must be established with the object of co-ordinating the country’s search and rescue efforts.

On the 1st of October 1958, the Department of Transport became responsible for the co-ordination of the South African Search and Rescue Services, and as a result the Permanent Committee for Search and Rescue was established (PECSAR) containing two sub committees namely, maritime and aeronautical, to attend to detailed matters pertaining to their respective fields. This worked very well and engendered a search and rescue consciousness on a wider field.

The two sub-committee reported to the main committee on their activities although they could refer any urgent matter to the main committee at any time. One of the first requirements of the PECSAR Organisation was to prescribe standard procedures, with the result that a Working Group was formed to draw up a Manual. The PECSAR Manual eventually saw the light of day in its bilingual printed form in October 1961.

In 1979 the PECSAR committee changed its name to the South African Search and Rescue Organization (SASAR), to keep with its national character and to identify itself as a South African Organisation.

Aviation and Maritime incidents and accidents, just like any other forms of disaster have inflicted a heavy loss in human lives and material. They represent a potentially significant obstacle to economic growth and development particularly if measures are not in place to deal with them effectively and efficiently.

As a member of ICAO and the IMO as well as party to the relevant International Conventions, South Africa recognize the great importance of saving lives and the need to be directly involved in rendering aeronautical and maritime search and rescue service to persons in distress. South Africa is also aware of its obligations in terms of these Conventions, hence the Government’s involvement in the provision of these services.

South Africa also acknowledges that SAR is humanitarian in nature and accepts its moral obligation to assist craft and persons in distress in terms of established international practice founded in international law. International law requires of signatory states to establish SAR systems on a multi-agency, regional or global basis to provide SAR services. South Africa has over the years, developed her own national SAR system that is being integrated with other countries' SAR system through bilateral agreements.

The South African Search and Rescue Organisation was established to execute the search and rescue mandate in South Africa, as well as to ensure a co-ordinated approach in the management and implementation of the SAR Programme.


To provide South Africa with a national search and rescue capability, which is internationally competitive and acclaimed.


The vision of the SASAR Organisation is “of a search and rescue system that best address all distress situation involving aviators plying their trade in South Africa’s designated search and rescue regions irrespective of their colour, creed, and religion”.


“Through facilitation, co-ordination, co-operation, regulation and enforcement, provide South Africa and the Southern Africa region with a search and rescue capability, which is internationally recognised and acclaimed”. 

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