The Minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse, has dismissed as detrimental the idea of wholly reserving the provision of security services for citizen owned private companies.
Addressing directors of local security companies at the Security Pitso hosted by his ministry at Maharaja on Thursday, the Minister advised that the local industry is not yet mature and equipped enough to meet all requirements for provision of security services.
Seretse was responding to statements made by some local private security company owners that all security services should be reserved for wholly or majority citizen owned companies.
“We should reserve services based on the skills we have as locals but this is only with regard to government tenders because the government cannot dictate to private institutions which company they can or cannot engage for security services,” said Seretse.
He added that legislation on such issues should not be shaped by frustration, anger and jealousy but rather by objectivity.
The Minister said that opening doors for foreign companies or investors may, in the long term, benefit the local industry in terms of the expertise imported by such companies.
“Let us not reserve to our detriment but rather regulate to the extent that we can benefit from those from beyond our borders,” Seretse said. He advised the citizen owned security companies to treat foreign investors as partners and not opportunistic vultures who are only here to milk the country and take the money back to their native countries, adding that they should strive to be efficient enough to compete with such companies on an equal footing.
Seretse said that citizen companies should take their industry seriously by training their personnel and desist from blaming foreigners for their own inefficiency.
For his part, a representative of G4S security argued that a partnership where a citizen owns majority shares in a company cannot work because “no investor wants to inject their money and resources in a company where their voice is limited”.
In an interview with Sunday Standard , Hugo Wiese, a director at Smartlure Holdings (security service consultants) echoed the minister’s remarks and added that there is not enough expertise locally to handle the ever evolving and sophisticated forms of crime that the industry is facing.
“I have been in this industry (in South Africa) since 1995 and I have investigated cases of murder, burglary, stock theft, schizophrenia and other forms of crime and related fraud,” said Wiese.
He believes fighting crime can be especially difficult because many of the crimes reported are perpetrated by security agents themselves.
“If you have no idea what you are doing you are bound to get your fingers burnt,” he remarked.
Another director of a security company called OryxK9, who preferred not to disclose his identity, said that some security equipment can be too expensive for local companies forcing them to apply for “expensive loans” which they may fail to repay. He said, for instance, an armoured vehicle may cost as much as P2 million.
Mike Molefe of Urban Security also shared the minister’s sentiment on regulation of security jobs but insisted that provision for security guards should be completely reserved for citizen companies.
Other issues discussed at the Pitso included the formation of a single association for the whole industry but Minister Seretse advised against the idea, saying it may prove difficult to manage because not all the companies under the umbrella provide the same type of service.
“You should be able to have as many associations as you deem necessary but there should be a set criteria for recognition of each association,” he said.
The aim of the Pitso, which was a follow up of the one recently held on September 17, was to discuss the draft Private Security Companies Bill which, once completed and accepted by the relevant stakeholders, shall be brought before parliament for endorsement.
The aim of the bill is to repeal and re-enact with amendments the Control of Security Guard Services Act. The bill also provides for the establishment of a licensing Board which shall, among other things, issue licenses to operate private security services as well as setting a code of conduct for the private security services industry.