MEMBERSHIP, REGISTRATION AND QUALIFICATION WITH FGASA
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The following questions will be answered:

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1.  WHO CAN BECOME A MEMBER OF FGASA?

Anybody over the age of 18 can become a member of FGASA.
Anybody who would like to:

  • Follow a career in Nature guiding
  • Improve their knowledge of wildlife and conservation
  • Gain a recognised guiding qualification
  • Support the development of professional nature guides
  • Gain a recognised Tracker qualification
  • Attain a specialist guiding qualification
  • Register with DEAT as a legal guide

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2.  HOW DO I BECOME A MEMBER OF FGASA?

Attain a Membership Application form from FGASA.  This form can be collected at the Johannesburg office or it can be sent to you via Fax or email.  The application form can also be downloaded from the FGASA website:  www.fgasa.org.za
Complete the application form by filling out all the required details.
Sign the FGASA Ethical code of conduct.
Pay the FGASA registration fee and the Annual subscription fee:

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3.  HOW DO I MAKE A PAYMENT TO FGASA?

Fees may be paid by cheque, postal order or paid directly into one of FGASA’s bank accounts. We do not have sufficient turnover at this stage to acquire credit card facilities. Please do not send cash by post. It does get lost from time to time, and we cannot take any responsibility for lost cash.

Bank account details:
Nedbank Eastgate
Branch no: 192-405
Account no: 1924 221 241

Bank account details:
ABSA Cresta
Account no: 911 932 9308

If you pay money directly into our bank account, please ensure that your name and/or FGASA membership number (if you are already a member) are written on the slip and fax this slip through to us, preferably together with a form or a note explaining what the money is for. From time to time we notice that money has been paid into our account with no indication whatsoever where the money comes from. We have no option but to regard these as donations to FGASA.

RENEWAL OF MEMBERSHIP  (Annual subscription payment)
Registration fees are a once-off payment, but subscription fees are renewable annually. Membership is valid for one calendar year (January to December).  New members pay pro rata fees for the balance of the calendar year in which they join. Invoices are sent out before your membership expires, usually together with the previous "Field News".  (See payment details and list of fees)

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4.  WHAT DO I GET ONCE I HAVE JOINED FGASA?

As soon as your application form and payment for membership has been processed by the FGASA Johannesburg office you will receive the following:

  • A Field Guides information booklet
  • A Field Guides Log book
  • The latest Field News magazine  (3 issues per year)
  • A membership card stating that you are an applicant member.

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5.  HOW DO I ATTAIN A FGASA QUALIFICATION

There are different criteria and requirements for the various qualifications you can attain through FGASA.

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5.1 Local Guide qualification

The category "Local Guide" was introduced to enable predominantly illiterate Field Guides to gain a qualification and register legally.
Once you have become an applicant member of FGASA you can apply for a FGASA Local guide practical assessment.  (There is no theory examination or workbook for the Local guide qualification)  If you can read or write it is suggested that you apply for the Level 1 qualification.
A qualified FGASA Assessor in a guiding area of your choice carries out the practical evaluation for the Local guide qualification.  You will need to take the assessor on a guided nature experience in a limited geographical area (with or without paying clients), preferably with clients.
Your assessor in the pre-assessment brief will explain the practical Assessment to you in detail.  It will be made very clear to you what you are being assessed on.  (Payment for the practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via the FGASA office.
Once you have been declared competent in the practical evaluation you will have attained the FGASA local guide qualification. (See question 6)

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5.2 Level 1 qualification

Once you have become an applicant member of FGASA you can apply for a FGASA Level 1 theory exam.
Payment for the exam should be made to FGASA in the same manner as the FGASA fees. Application and payment for the theory exam can also be made at the same time as your FGASA membership application payment.
A qualified FGASA Assessor in a guiding area of your choice carries out the practical evaluation for the Level 1 qualification. You will need to take the assessor on a limited guided nature experience (with or without paying clients), preferably with clients.
Your assessor in the pre-assessment brief will explain the practical Assessment to you in detail. It will be made very clear to you what you are being assessed on. (Payment for the practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via FGASA).
Once you have been declared competent in the practical evaluation you will have attained the FGASA Level 1 qualification.

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5.3 Level 2 qualifications

Guiding experience: Once you have attained a full Level 1 qualification (Both theory and practical) you are eligible to write the Level 2 theory examination.  However only once you have gained a minimum of 1 year of active guiding experience (260 days) you are eligible to apply to be practically assessed for the FGASA Level 2 qualification.  If you have guided for 1 hour a day or 8 hours a day the experience is equivalent to 1 day of guiding.  To attain the required amount of guiding experience you must have been guiding over a period of a year for at least 260 days. 
 
Logbook: Your guiding experience must be recorded in the FGASA Logbook issued to you when you joined as a member.  If you are joining FGASA and you have already gained a certain amount of guiding experience, you can backdate your logbook with this experience.  This guiding experience must be verified and signed by your previous employer(s).  Reference letters may be sent with your logbook to the FGASA Johannesburg office.  (Refer to the description in the FGASA logbook as to what is required).
 
Application and payment: Send your Exam application form and proof of payment for the Level 2 examination to the FGASA Johannesburg office before the exam closing dates to write the FGASA Level 2 theory examination.  
On successful completion of the Level 2 theory examination and on being declared competent you will be eligible to be practically evaluated for the FGASA Level 2 qualification after your logbook experience has been verified.
A qualified FGASA Assessor in a guiding area of your choice carries out the practical evaluation for the Level 2 qualification.  You will need to take the assessor on a guided nature experience (with or without paying clients), preferably with clients.
Your assessor in the pre-assessment brief will explain the practical Assessment to you in detail.  It will be made very clear to you what you are being assessed on.  (Payment for the practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via FGASA).
 Once you have been declared competent in the practical evaluation you will have attained the FGASA Level 2 qualification.

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5.4 Level 3 qualifications

Guiding experience: Once you have attained a full Level 2 qualification (Both theory and practical) you are eligible to write the Level 3 theory examinations.  However only once you have gained a minimum of 2 years active guiding experience (520days) you are eligible to apply to be practically assessed for the FGASA Level 3 qualification.  If you have guided for 1 hour a day or 8 hours a day the experience is equivalent to 1 day of guiding.  To attain the required amount of guiding experience you must have been guiding over a period of two years for at least 520 days.
 
Logbook: Your guiding experience must be recorded in the FGASA Logbook issued to you when you joined as a member.  If you are joining FGASA and you have already gained a certain amount of guiding experience, you can backdate your logbook with this experience.  This guiding experience must be verified and signed by your previous employer(s).  Reference letters may be sent with your logbook to the FGASA Johannesburg office.  (Refer to the description in the FGASA logbook as to what is required).
 
Application and payment: Send your Exam application form and proof of payment for the Level 3 examinations for each of the level 3 examinations [3a & 3b] ) to the FGASA Johannesburg office.  To be eligible for the Level 3 practical assessment your logbook experience has to be approved and you must have passed both the theory exams. The Level 3 theory examination is split into two separate examinations (Level 3a and 3b).  These examinations have to be written at separate times and may not be written on the same day.
 
When filling out your Level 3 theory examination application form you must specify the examination that you want to write (3a or 3b).
In order to be declared theoretically competent, you need to obtain a minimum of 60% for each section and an overall mark of 75% for each of the two examination papers.
 
In the event that you do not obtain the 60% sub-minimum for each section of the paper you will have to re-write the entire exam paper.
The Level 3 theoretical qualification (exam a & b) must be completed within a 12-month period to be exempted from re-writing the entire paper. (Refer to the section on examination mark allocation)
 
On successful completion of the Level 3 theory examination and on being declared competent you will be eligible to be practically evaluated for the FGASA Level 3 qualification.
A qualified FGASA Assessor in a guiding area of your choice carries out the practical evaluation for the Level 3 qualification.  You will need to take the assessor on a guided nature experience (with or without paying clients), preferably with clients.
Your assessor in the pre-assessment brief will explain the practical Assessment to you in detail.  It will be made very clear to you what you are being assessed on.  (Payment for the practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via FGASA).
Once you have been declared competent in the practical evaluation you will have attained the FGASA Level 3 qualification.

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5.5 Trails guide qualification

Having successfully attained either a FGASA tracker qualification, Local guide, Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 you are now eligible to apply to write the Trails Guide theoretical examination.
 
Application and payment: Send your Exam application form and proof of payment for the FGASA Trails Guide examination to the FGASA Johannesburg office.  Once your existing FGASA qualification has been verified your exam application will be processed.  You will then be eligible to write the Trails Guide theory examination at the appropriate venue as per set examination date.
 
On successful completion of the Trails Guide theory examination and on being declared competent you will also be required to have attained the following amount of experience: At least 10 encounters on foot as either lead guide or back-up accompanied by a FGASA qualified Trails Guide or SKS (DA or DG) guide/trainer/assessor and 10 vehicle approaches (minimum of 50 hours) to view potentially dangerous game.  During any training course for trails guide you may log 5 of the 10 encounters as a participant. Only once you have this initial experience will you be eligible to be practically evaluated for the FGASA Trails guide qualification. However you will then only be issued a FGASA Trails Guide Back-up certificate until such time as you have attained the further required experience stated below.
 A qualified FGASA Assessor in a guiding area of your choice carries out the practical evaluation for the Trails Guide qualification. 
 
The Trails Guide assessment consists of two parts:
View potentially dangerous Animals (VPDA). You will need to take the assessor on a guided nature experience on foot in an area of dangerous game (with or without paying clients), preferably with clients.
Advanced rifle handling assessment consists of a number of static target shooting exercises and a simulated charge shooting exercise with the appropriate calibre rifle.
 
Your assessor in the pre-assessment brief will explain the practical Assessment to you in detail.  It will be made very clear to you what you are being assessed on.  (Payment for the practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via FGASA).
 
Once you have been declared competent in both parts of the practical evaluation you will have attained the FGASA Back-up Trails guide qualification.
Once you have attained the FGASA Back-up Trails guide qualification you can now operate in a lodge as a back up (second rifle) on walks in dangerous game areas.  The Back-up Trails Guide must log (recorded in the FGASA DG-logbook and verified by a lead-guide) at least 100 hours (50 encounters as per definition in the DG-logbook) as a back-up Trails Guide with a qualified FGASA lead guide (1st rifle) before FGASA will issue the full Trails Guide Certificate.

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5.6 SKS – Dangerous Animals qualification

This qualification has now changed to be known as the SKS (Dangerous Game) qualification.  There are fairly strict criteria, which you will need to conform to in order to gain access into this qualification.  Please contact the FGASA Johannesburg office if you require any further information.

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5.7 Birding qualifications

The FGASA birding qualifications consist of three different categories:
1.  Local bird guide
2. Specialist bird guide
3. SKS (Birding) guide

Local Bird Guide
This qualification will require the following:

  • The guide must first have attained either the FGASA Local guide qualification or the FGASA Level 1 or 2
    qualification or a full Tracking qualification.  (Including create a guided experience for customers - if this unit
    standard is not included in the tracking qualification then it will have to be assessed in the birding practical
    assessment)
  • The guide will be assessed by means of a Birding Skills practical assessment in a specific site only.
  • There is no Slide and sound assessment.
  • There is no theory examination for this qualification.

The Local Bird Guiding qualification (and certificate) will reflect which Site the guide has been assessed competent to guide in.  For example: Local Bird Guide (Timbavati Game Reserve).  If the guide is assessed as competent for a Site s/he will be deemed a Local bird guide.

Birding Specialist Qualification
This qualification will require the following:

  • The guide must first have attained either the FGASA Local guide qualification or the FGASA Level 1 or 2 qualification or a Full Tracking qualification (including create a guided experience for customers - if this unit standard not included in the tracking qualification then it will have to be assessed in the birding practical assessment)
  • The guide will be assessed by means of the birding Slide and Sound assessment.
  • The guide will be assessed by means of a Birding Skills Practical assessment.

There is no theory examination for this qualification.
The specialist guide will choose which areas (biomes) she/he wants to be assessed for. The Slide and Sound assessment will assess all the areas that the guide wants to be assessed for, however the Birding Skills Practical assessment will take place in one area only in order to assess bird-guiding skills.

The Specialist Bird Guiding qualification (and certificate) will reflect which areas the guide has been assessed competent to guide in.  For example: Specialist Savannah Bird Guide.  If the guide is assessed as competent for all the areas (biomes) s/he will be deemed a National Specialist bird guide.


SKS Birding Qualification
This qualification will require the following:

  • The guide must first have attained the FGASA Level 3 qualification
  • The guide will be assessed by means of the SKS (Birding) Theory examination.
  • The guide will be assessed by means of the birding Slide and Sound assessment.
  • The guide will be assessed by means of a Birding Skills Practical assessment.

 The SKS- guide will again choose which areas (biomes) he/she wants to be assessed for.  The Slide and Sound assessment will assess all the areas to be assessed, however the Birding Skills Practical assessment will take place in one area only in order to assess bird-guiding skills.

The SKS Birding qualification (and certificate) will reflect which areas the guide has been assessed competent to guide in.  For example: SKS-Birding: Savannah. If the guide is assessed as competent for all the areas (biomes) s/he will be deemed an SKS–Birding National Guide.
The application and payment for the FGASA birding assessments follows the same process as for the other FGASA qualifications (above)

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5.8 Tracker qualifications

Once you have become an applicant member of FGASA you can apply for a FGASA Tracker practical assessment.  (There is no theory examination or workbook for the tracker qualifications)
A qualified FGASA Tracker Assessor in an appropriate natural area carries out the practical evaluations for all the Tracker qualifications. 
 
The practical assessment consists of three parts:

  • Essential embedded knowledge questions 
  • Spoor identification and interpretation 
  • Systematic tracking

Your assessor in the pre-assessment brief will explain the practical Assessment to you in detail.  It will be made very clear to you what you are being assessed on.  (Payment for the practical assessment is done directly to the assessor and does not come via the FGASA office.
Once you have been declared competent in the practical evaluation you will have attained one of the FGASA Tracker qualifications.  (Refer to detailed information on the different criteria required for the various Tracker qualifications)

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6.  WHEN WILL I BE AWARDED THE FGASA QUALIFICATION?

You will be awarded the appropriate FGASA Certificate when:

  • You have been declared competent in the theoretical and the practical assessment.  (Local guide and trackers only go through a practical assessment)
  • All your FGASA fees are fully paid up.
  • You have submitted a copy of a valid recognised First Aid certificate to the FGASA Johannesburg office. ( Only Trackers are not required to have a First Aid certificate)

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 7.  WHAT QUALIFICATIONS CAN I GAIN THROUGH FGASA?

FGASA is a THETA recognised assessment provider for nature guides in Southern Africa. The equivalent THETA qualifications can be attained through FGASA, thus allowing you to attain the required national skills program certificates.

The following qualifications can be attained through FGASA:

  • FGASA THETA
  • FGASA Local guide
  • FGASA Level 1
  • FGASA Level 2
  • FGASA Level 3
  • FGASA Trails Guide
  • Nature Site Guide NQF2
  • Nature Site Guide NQF3
  • Nature Site Guide NQF4
  • Nature Site Guide NQF5
  • Nature Site Dangerous game areas
  • FGASA SKS-Dangerous Game
  • FGASA Local bird guide / Birding specialist / SKS-Birding
  • Tracker Level 1
  • Tracker Level 2
  • Tracker Level 3
  • Senior Tracker
  • Master Tracker
  • Other SKS (Special Knowledge and Skills) qualifications
  • Full National Certificate in Tourism Guiding

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8. HOW DO I REGISTER AS A LEGALLY QUALIFIED TOURIST GUIDE?

The legal registration of field guides is done at the Provincial level through the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT).

FGASA qualified guides may conditionally register for a period until such time as THETA certificates are issued, with proof of:

  • A FGASA certificate
  • A copy of the Declaration of Competence
  • A letter from the FGASA office

To re-register as a Tourist Guide:

  • You should be at least 21 years of age.
  • Complete the relevant application form.
  • Sign the code of conduct and ethics.
  • Submit a certified copy of your valid First Aid Certificate (Recognised by the department of Labour).
  • Include 4 recent clear, un-mounted and identical full colour photographs of yourself (showing only head and shoulders) measuring 30 x 25mm.
  • Pay the registration fee preferably in cash or with a bank issued cheque.
  • Submit a certified copy of your ID book.
  • Submit a copy of your work permit/passport (if applicable)
  • Submit copy of your public drivers permit, if you have one.
  • Submit copies of your curriculum vitae / qualifications (optional).
  • Submit a copy of your language proficiency certificate.
  • Submit a certified THETA certificate confirming your training and assessment.
    (or the conditional registration requirements for FGASA qualified guides)

 

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9. WHAT PROCEDURE DO I FOLLOW TO WRITE A FGASA THEORY EXAMINATION?

Upon proof of extensive guiding experience, a candidate may ask special permission to write the Level 2 or 3-theory examination directly. This may be granted on condition that, should the candidate not prove competent, he/she has to then go back and complete the Level 1 qualification

Examination sittings are held three times per year in centres throughout Southern Africa. Some centres (indicated on the exam application form) are used frequently, but others are arranged on an ad hoc basis to suit candidates as best as we can with the facilities available. Normally, all theoretical evaluations take place at 10h00.

Revision workshops may be held on a set date about two weeks before the evaluation at the Johannesburg offices. Regions may also organise workshops, and you are advised to contact the regional chairman of your area or the office if you are interested. The workshops are aimed at members who wish to write the FGASA level 2-theory examination.

Candidates are urged to phone the office 10 days before the exam to confirm the venue and time of the exam, especially if you are not writing at one of the established centres.

If for some reason a candidate has to cancel an exam session and lets the Johannesburg office know beforehand, the exam fee will be transferred to the next exam session. However if we are not informed beforehand, the money will be forfeited.

It is FGASA policy not to make old exam papers available.  Examples of exam questions at the different levels under each topic are given in the FGASA Information Guide.

As some degree of literacy is essential to get to level 3, oral evaluations will normally be restricted to Level 2. Oral evaluations will be more a case of the assessor helping with the interpretation of questions, while a Level 3 candidate should be literate enough to complete the evaluation in writing.

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10.  HOW DO I GET MY EVALUATION RESULTS?

For all FGASA qualifications, many examination papers are marked in the regions before being returned to the office. All exam papers are then moderated and the marks entered into the computer. Only then can marks be released. We usually have around 37 exam centres in Southern Africa, and it takes time to get everything back, marked and moderated.

From experience we have found that this process takes about three weeks. Results are then published in the next issue of "Field News" and on the FGASA Web-site.

Please do not phone the Johannesburg office for results before a period of three weeks after an evaluation. Note that results can only be made available from the Johannesburg office after all papers have been marked and moderated. We urgently request members not to tempt regional markers into releasing results beforehand, and regional markers not to do so.

In principle all papers with percentages between 68% and 74% are remarked during the moderation process. If you get 72% for an evaluation, for example, you can be assured that we have done all we can to increase the marks by checking ambiguous questions, etc., but simply cannot "find" more marks.

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11. HOW DO I USE THE FGASA LOGBOOK?

Logbooks are an integral part of the Rpl and FGASA qualification system.
If you are new in the field, you can start entering any relevant guiding experience in the logbook, and with the relevant experience logged, you may then apply to be assessed for higher-level evaluations. If you have already been guiding for some time, you may backdate the logbook. Fill in your previous guiding experience - whether or not you have been FGASA registered - in as much detail as possible, and have it verified and signed by your previous employers where you can.
Reference letters can also be sent with the logbook. At present any superior can sign off your guiding experience in the logbook, but if that person has passed FGASA evaluations him/herself, so much the better.

The amount of detail required depends on your kind of operation. If you do one trip a month, we want the details of every trip. If you do two game drives and a walk every day, we would like a monthly summary of these. It is very important that you sign every page, and have a superior sign on the same page, preferably with some comment.

The purpose of the logbook is to assess your guiding ability and experience from a distance - the more relevant information you give us for this purpose, the better. Please write down "difficult" encounters you may have had with e.g. dangerous game and/or clients, and how you handled these.

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12.  WHEN DO I GET A MEMBERSHIP CARD & CERTIFICATE?

Membership cards are issued to all applicant members and FGASA members who have passed the theoretical and practical evaluations.

No qualification card or certificate will be issued unless the FGASA office is in possession of a copy of a valid First Aid Certificate (Level 1/or higher) and two passport-sized photographs (they have to fit on your card!). We advise members to hand this in upon registration or as soon as possible thereafter.

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13.  WHAT DO I DO WHEN I CHANGE MY POSTAL ADDRESS?

Please keep the Johannesburg office informed of any changes in your address. If you do not receive your "Field News" or an invoice at the appropriate times, please let us know. It may be due to a wrong address, and sometimes things go missing in the post.  Please fax a copy of any change of postal address to the FGASA Johannesburg office.

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14.  HOW DOES FGASA COMMUNICATE WITH ITS MEMBERS?

"Field News" is the official magazine of FGASA, and will now be distributed three times per year. This magazine is virtually the only way in which we can keep members abreast of new developments in FGASA and the Field Guiding Sector in general, and members are urged to read the magazine, at least for that purpose. However, the magazine is much more than just a newsletter.

Members may also find information on the FGASA website: www.fgasa.org.za

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15. WHAT ARE THE FGASA OFFICE HOURS?

The FGASA offices are open from 08h00 to 16h30 from Monday to Thursday. On Fridays the office closes at 12h00. The office is also closed on all public holidays. The office will usually be closed from about the 7th December to the around the 7th of January of each year.

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16. HOW DO I CONTACT FGAGA?

Contact Information:
If you would like any further information about FGASA, please do not hesitate to contact us at one of the numbers or e-mail addresses below. 

Telephone:  + 27 11 886 8245 
Fax: + 27 11 886 8084

FGASA Email addresses: 
ceo@fgasa.org.za       
brian@fgasa.org.za    
Bookshop@fgasa.org.za    
exams@fgasa.org.za
Existing.members@fgasa.org.za
New.members@fgasa.org.za
Webmaster: webmaster@web-inn.org.za
(For website-related queries and error reporting only.)

Postal:
P O Box 4432
Cresta
2118
 
Executive Committee: Consists of the Directors and the Regional representatives. Some regions have yet to elect a representative.
Grant Hine (Managing Director & Chairman)  011 – 886 8245 
Bruce Lawson (Director & Vice Chairman)  082 3325 692 
Brian Serrao (Operations Director)  011 – 886 8245 
Anthony Ngomane (Director)  013 - 766 4181 
Louis Willemse (Western Cape)  083 540 4575 
Ian Owtram (Loweveld North)  083 286 8281 

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