Ahmed Bahm and SA Ambassador to Indonesia, Hilton Fisher, at the official residence in Jakarta. Picture: Sihle Mlambo
Jakarta - The Department of International Relations and Co-operation supports the efforts of the Gift of the Givers in Indonesia, the ministry said on Friday.

A team of search and rescue volunteers from the non-profit organization landed in Jakarta, Indonesia, on the early hours of Friday morning. The team was initially due to depart for Sulawesi, Palu, on Saturday morning, but the team was now expected to arrive on Sunday. 

“The government and people of South Africa wish to extend its sincere condolences to the government and people of Indonesia as they are still battling the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in the Central Sulawesi Island.

“The thoughts of the people of South Africa are with the people of Indonesia during this difficult period, and the South African government extends its sympathy to those families who have lost their loved ones,” said Dirco.

Dr Hilton Fisher, the South African ambassador to Indonesia, said on Friday that it was a “sad situation” what had befallen the people of Indonesia. More than 1500 people have been killed by the earthquake and tsunami in Palu. Thousands more were displaced. 

Hilton Fisher, South Africa's ambassador to Indonesia, speaks about the humanitarian crisis following the recent earthquake and tsunami. Video: Sihle Mlambo
“It's a sad situation, one needs to remember the human factor. The world has responded, South Africa has responded through the Gift Of the Givers. These are important gestures, this will definitely help in our relations,” he said. 

Fisher said the country, which has more than 17 000 islands, was still dealing with the carnage left by earthquakes in August.

However, Fisher, who was visited by a representative of the Gift of the Givers at his official residence in Jakarta on Friday, warned the organisation to be careful on the island.
“What is important is that during a disaster, the Indonesian government wants to be in control. They know the conditions locally, they know the dangers. 
Operate within the perimeters,” he said.

Ahmed Bahm, the Gift of the Givers team leader in the Indonesian mission, assured Fisher the organisation was acting in line with local guidelines. 

He also informed Fisher that the 25 volunteers would be making their way to Palu on Sunday morning.

Bahm said the message from the South African government was positive after the organisation heeded a call to assist.

“We are here to show the world Africa can assist the world. We have the spirit of Ubuntu, we travel anywhere in the world and work together,” he said.

Fisher thanked the Gift of the Givers for bringing more than two tonnes of aid and said he was aware of the need for housing, food, water and medical assistance on Palu.

“(This) makes one proud to be a South African at a time like this. In a small way, it makes a huge difference. The spirit of Ubuntu. People like the Gift of the Givers put their lives at risk. For South Africans to contribute to an effort like this is magnanimous,” he said. 

* Cash contributions to assist the victims of the disaster can be deposited into Gift of the Givers, Standard Bank, Pietermaritzburg, Account No. 052278611, Branch Code 057525. 

Please send deposit slip to [email protected] for acknowledgement.

Independent On Saturday