Minister of Defense, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi has expressed concern over a rising number of briefcase security companies saying that these companies are the ones who in the majority of cases do not comply with the laws and policies regulating the private security industry.
Speaking during the opening of the Inaugural Private Security Companies Pitso for the North Region in Francistown, the minister said that some of the legitimately registered security companies are brief case companies as they do not have permanent addresses of business where they should be operating.
“There are 3 000 security companies registered with my Ministry with 238 waiting to be registered. Of the registered companies, we have since terminated 1 029 licenses mostly for failure to renew licenses and no compliance with the provisions of the laws regulating private security companies,” he added.
He also said that these brief case companies are in clear violation of the Control of Private Security Guard Services Act. In addition he said these companies have the tendency of employing people without checking their backgrounds. He said this trend has always led to the hiring of undesirable elements that eventually assist criminals to break into premises that they are supposed to be guarding.
“This needs to change so that we put our house in order. You should always be cognizant of the fact that the role of security companies is to assist in the fight against crime and as such, we should not be found to be perpetrators of the same,” said Minister Kgathi.
He further said there is a growing number of criminal activities involving employees of private security companies. From 2012 to date, Kgathi said the police have dealt with a total of 345 cases involving these employees. He said these cases include rape, burglary and theft, stealing by servant, theft common, possession of suspected stolen property, house breaking, malicious damage to property, working in Botswana without a permit, unlawful possession of government trophy, possession of drugs including suspected cases of armed robbery.
“There is never an explanation of where guards were when some of these crimes are committed. The result is that the police find themselves chasing reports that have no leads which also compromises the investigations of the cases. What worries us most is that some of the guards are relegated to trolly recovery in shopping malls while others are engaged in the shops relegated to stock taking instead of guarding the premises. This does not relate to what the guards are employed for or what their security companies are contracted for,” said Kgathi.
The Minister also said it is high time that whenever businesspeople develop shopping malls, they should be required to make a provision for security such as putting CCTV’s and other security equipments and systems to enhance the security of their businesses. He also his ministry is in the process of coming up with Crime Prevention Master Plan and will engage the ministry of Trade Industry, the Ministry of Lands and Housing and the Ministry of Local government and Rural Development on this issue. He said they should consult each other about the possibilities of a requirement that businesses should make provision of security as a standard that should be complied with when constructing shopping malls.
Among other important issues, he also said there is disturbing trend by some security companies to hire guards without signing employment contracts. He said this is perpetrated by those employers who want to abuse employees by hiring and firing them as and when they wish.
“Our advice is that where employees are hired on long or short term basis, it should be spelt out in a contract that specifies duration of employment and remuneration thereof. Failure to do so is a clear violation of labour laws in our country,” he said.
On a different note, he said that his ministry is aware through the Controller of Security Guard Services of challenges that the industry is facing, such as lack of standards and code of conduct that should apply and regulate the provision of security services in the country. He however said the ministry is working around the clock to develop a legislation which will make provision for the setting of standards and a code of conduct for the private security companies.