Private Security Industry Regulation: Are we missing the point?

May 20, 2014

 Opinion Piece/ Media Statement

Issued on behalf of the Security Association of South Africa (SASA)

20 May 2014

 

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Private Security Industry Regulation: Are we missing the point?

 

Jenny Reid, Managing Director of iFacts and immediate Past President of the Security Association of South Africa (SASA), would like to respond to the Opinion Editorial by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, published in Business Day on 20 May 2014, where he argues that private security industry regulation is in South Africa’s best interest.

 

While the Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, has provided a compelling argument for regulation of the private security industry, I believe that he has missed some critical points, which the private security industry has raised on numerous occasions.

 

The Private Security Industry is not opposed to government regulation. In fact, the leading industry associations and their membership companies, including the Security Industry Alliance (SIA) and the Security Association of South Africa (SASA), have consistently stated that they support greater regulation of the private security industry.

 

The reason for this is that the very core of the private security industry in South Africa is under threat by non-compliant security companies, who continue to operate unabated, posing a significant threat to their clients, the industry as a whole, as well as a threat to national safety and security interests.

 

What the Private Security Industry does take enormous issue with is the clause within the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill, which aims to limit foreign ownership of private security firms in South Africa. The Security Industry Alliance (SIA) has gone as far as to call this unconstitutional in a number of fundamental respects, including the consultation process adopted by the Portfolio Committee, and the inadequate provision of information justifying limitation on foreign ownership.

 

The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) has not yet been able to control the mushrooming of non-compliant / fly-by-night security companies, and yet this proposed legislation now aims to target compliant firms that also just happen to be multinationals. This is in spite of the fact that the private security industry associations, who these firms are all members of, have consistently offered their support and assistance to the SAPS and PSIRA in terms of bringing non-compliant security companies to book. It’s almost as if the compliant companies are again being penalised and targeted, while the fly-by-nights and other non-compliant operators can go on to do as they please.

 

The Minister of Police continues to imply that foreign-owned security firms pose a threat to South Africa’s national safety. This argument is not only a reckless statement, but flawed to very its core. Some of the leading, best-known and most reputable private security firms operating in South Africa today are the very same companies that stand to lose, should this regulation come into fruition. Furthermore, the security industry has also pointed out on numerous occasions that less than 10% of local guarding security firms are operated by multinationals. This does not make them a threat to national safety, but a significant asset. As stated before, these firms are among the best in the world.

 

In addition and according to SIA, the definition of private security provider has been extended to include that wide scope of companies that import and supply equipment to the security industry. So what is even more alarming about this proposed regulation is that people have not yet taken into consideration that it is not just the guarding companies that will be affected, but quite possibly the electronic security industry as well.

 

The Minister has hit back on the industry’s concern about job losses, saying that there is no evidence to support this. Well, the industry would argue that in addition to the threat of disinvestment, the proposed legislation will require such onerous requirements, that foreign investors will understandably just take their investments elsewhere. We have all seen this happen in some of our other industries before and in the rest of Africa as well, so why should the case be any different here whatsoever.

 

While we cannot argue with the Minister’s comments that the Private Security Industry is accountable to its clients, while the South African Police Service are accountable to parliament – we can argue that the unparalleled growth of the industry speaks volumes about the urgent need to address crime in South Africa. The private security industry has also extended its assistance to the SAPS on several occasions. Both SIA and SASA have repeatedly stated that they would like to work hand-in-hand with the SAPS and PSIRA. Firstly, to support resources and combat crime in South Africa. Secondly, to work in partnership to eradicate non-compliant security companies.

We believe that stamping out non-compliance should rather be the immediate and urgent priority of the SAPS and PSIRA, rather than an attempt to eradicate foreign investment in an economy which is already bucking under the pressure of the status quo.

 

In closing, the Security Association of South Africa welcomes any comments or questions about what constitutes a compliant and non-compliant security company. Furthermore SASA welcomes the opportunity to work with the SAPS and PSIRA in tackling this issue head on.

ENDS

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The Security Association of South Africa

The Security Association of South Africa (SASA) is a world-class professional body that advocates, promotes, drives and delivers industry compliance within South Africa’s private security industry. With a five decade legacy, SASA is one of the greatest advocates of industry compliance, serving as resource for its members, an educational platform for consumers of security services and a critical link between the private security industry and government representatives.

www.sasecurity.co.za

 

This media Statement was issued by Write Scene on behalf of the Security Association of South Africa.

 

For further information, kindly contact:

Andrea Müller

Write Scene

011 678 5647

076 811 0233

andrea@writescene.co.za

 

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