Demining teams from Mechem have lifted more than 23 000 landmines over an eight-month period on the eastern border of Turkey.
The state-owned arms and manufacturing company regards this as one of the most significant achievements ever in the field of humanitarian demining.
Mechem is a business unit of Denel that provides battle area clearance solutions, contraband detection services, mine-protected vehicles and ancillary equipment.
In 1991, it became one of the first companies to enter the commercial demining market.
The demining specialist removed each of the potentially deadly devices by hand at a rate of more than 200 a day. The company announced that since demining operations started in 2016, there has not been a single fatal or serious injury to any of the team members.
Zwelakhe Ntshepe, the acting Group CEO of Denel, says this is a major achievement that confirmed Mechem’s reputation as “a world leader in creating a safer world”.
“The number of landmines removed is unprecedented in global terms. Such targets have, in the past, only been achieved in areas where large stockpiles were destroyed – and not in cases where the mines have to be detected and physically removed from the ground. We have now removed a further 23 000 potentially landmines from our planet.
“The Mechem team in Turkey are true ambassadors for South Africa who are saving lives of people in very difficult and dangerous conditions. South Africa should be very proud of the achievements of these brave men and women,” Ntshepe said.
Melchem was responsible for demining operations in Mozambique, Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In Turkey, the team consisted of 160 staff members specialising in manual lifting of the unexploded devices. Their success was despite Turkish authorities not allowing usage of mine detection dogs and its Minewolf flail machine.