What does the flying squad do?

What does the flying squad do?

South Africa’s 30 Flying Squad units are the rapid response solution to violent, severe or priority crimes in progress.

Based in the country’s most populous, the Flying Squad’s elite units serve as force multipliers to support police stations and other units in their designated areas.

Their primary purpose is to react in life-threatening situations, but when police resources are stretched to the limit, they also assist in less serious crimes and complaints.  

Flying squad units work hard to increase police visibility on major routes, highways and hotspot areas where police visibility is needed. These members respond quickly to serious and violent crimes by constantly monitoring the police radio.


According to the Official Guide to South Africa, the South African Policing Services (SAPS) mission is to create safety and security in the communities where the Flying Squad serves. 

These are: 

  • Combat and prevent threats to people’s safety and security
  • Investigate those threats 
  • Ensure that those who threaten and destroy others are brought to justice 
  • Participate in rooting out the causes of crime

Within that scope, the Flying Squad units consist of; team players who are confident, psychologically and emotionally strong and sensitive to the most minor details at any crime scene they are called out to, whether it is hijackings, kidnapping, armed robbery or hostage situations in progress. 

With a need to be super-fit, these officers who are skilled in tactical training, advanced defensive driving and emergency life support skills have to react speedily to apprehend and arrest suspects, thereby limiting further threats and danger they pose to their victims. 

According to SAPS, in the course of their duties, says officers:

  • Stabilise crimes scenes
  • Protect and secure crimes scenes before investigating officers arrive
  • Provide visible policing on patrols
  • Assist in crime prevention
  • Serve as policing back-up during major events
  • Attend suicide scenes.

The units operate in a country that is a global murder and rape hotspot. In 2019 / 2020 there were 99 000 hijackings, 213 363 crimes against women and children, 2.3 million households experienced some form of criminal attack, 1,2 million homes were broken into, and 88000 cars were stolen. 

How to contact the Flying Squad

The nationwide emergency response number 10111. Every person should have it on their phone!

The call goes to a call center where an operator takes down all the necessary details and assigns the incident either to the Flying Squad or the local police station, depending on the nature of the incident. Calls from a landline are free, but calls from a cell phone are charged at normal rates.

However, if you call the cell phone emergency number 112 (all the major networks), the calls are free and connect to the call center even when you don’t have airtime.

The call center filters these calls to ensure that they route to the right service and that the emergency being reported is an actual emergency. This helps avoid tying up vital emergency response systems. 

How to report an emergency

Before dialing the numbers, 10111 0r 112, ensure you have all the details, which you should relay calmly to the operator. 

These details should include:

  • Details and nature of the emergency; for example, hostage situation or gangland shooting spree 
  • Give the location or address with details of landmarks.
  • Give your contact details and someone involved in the emergency’s contact details.
  • Also, ensure that the line remains open until emergency teams arrive on the scene.
  • In the case of hijackings or car theft, provide details of the vehicle such as registration, make and model of the car, how many suspects and victims, if possible. 
  •  Where someone has been injured, whether the person is still breathing, conscious or unconscious, and the nature of their injuries.


On the iER App, you can create special groups for family and friends, as well as neighbourhood watch crews – so that you can distribute important information and communicate quickly to a large group of people.

Communication is key when it comes to having a safety net available. Now, when you find yourself in a road emergency – help is just a click away. 

The iER app has unique built-in alerts and a GPS tracking functionality so that the emergency services can locate you with ease, ensuring a swift, hassle-free rescue.

iER has taken the services provided a step further, as in the event of an emergency, iER will notify your family and emergency contacts.

Important numbers

Besides 10111 for the Flying Squad and the cell phone emergency 112, you also need the ambulance response number 10177, which is for reporting a medical emergency. 

Because there isn’t one number for all emergencies in the country, you may need to call the police and the fire department, respectively, especially where there is an accident with someone trapped inside their vehicle. The fire department will need to cut the person out of the vehicle. 

So save those numbers on your phone because every second counts in an emergency.





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