Parliamentary Question: DoP: Annual Conference of the Security Industry Alliance


Remarks by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, MP at the Annual Conference of the Security Industry Alliance, Wanderers Club, Illovo, Gauteng

Theme: “The Future of the Private Security Industry”

November 15, 2011

Chairman of Security Industry Alliance Board, Mr. Sibu Ncube;

CEO of the SIA, Mr. Steve Conradie;

Chairman of the PSIRA Council, Mr. Thula Bopela;

Chairman of the SASSETA Board, Mr. Abbey Witbooi;

Chairman of the PSSPF Board of Trustees, Mr. Dawood Alexander;

CEO of SASSETA, Mr. Zongezile Baloyi;

Executive Director of PSIRA, Mr. Manabela Chauke;

SIA Board Members present;

Portfolio holders of SIA Member Organisations;

Conference delegates from across the country;

Ladies and Gentleman;

Members of the Media;

As the police leadership, we wish to express our appreciation to the entire Board of Security Industry Alliance for affording us an opportunity to exchange views with you.

It is perhaps advantageous and appropriate to open this important gathering, as one gets to articulate proactively.  One is able to outline from an onset, government’s expectation and view on this industry, which would assist in the conference direction and outcomes. 

We therefore, as we criss-cross the country interacting with ordinary South Africans, academics, organised structures and various other stakeholders, are able to grasp the socio-economic challenges facing them, including the scourge of crime.  It is important to emphasize our stance upfront so that you as the Security Industry Alliance also understand the role you need to play in this regard.  Government, more specifically the police, should not be seen as the other ‘institution’ on the other side of the fence. 

We have a duty and a mandate to fight crime, smartly and toughly. And we remain confident that your principles and operations as an industry, compliments our duty.  It should not be in direct opposite but be in unison with our approach.

Such engagements represent a continuation of our crusade.  They continuously help us in our policy formulations, advancements in programmes and where necessary, assist in fine-tuning some of our current approaches.  It is vital to ensure that the policies we develop are intertwined with current safety and security challenges. 

Perhaps from the onset, we must reiterate and emphasize our uncompromisable undertaking that this government is committed to fighting crime and all its evils.  We will fight it toughly, smartly and within the confines of the law.  Coupled with this is our unmovable stance on community-policing philosophy.

This conference theme: “The future of the Private Security Industry” triggers an interesting analogy about a long term outlook.  We should perhaps before we commence on the future of this industry, relook the current role of the industry in helping government curb the scourge of crime.  What principles govern this industry? How effective is the private security industry in the fight against crime? Are there sustainable approaches and legislative framework on how the industry is currently operating?

The private security industry is growing at a fast pace and we must also align our regulation strategies to deliver effective regulation.  Currently we have 8 828 private security companies to regulate with over 400 000 security officers to regulate.

On the occasion of the Ministry of Police Budget Vote in Parliament earlier this year, we highlighted that we will be introducing a revised Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority Bill in order to address weaknesses and gaps in our regulation of the private security industry.   Work is already under way and in fact I was briefed yesterday that considerable progress has been made in this regard.

The Bill is with State Law Advisors for Certification before introduction to Parliament.  The proposed changes will see us ensuring better capacitating of the regulator in order to effectively police the private security industry.

Some of the notable changes through the amendment will result in the introduction of government funding of the regulation; abolition of the payment of levies by individual security officers.  It will also include tightening of the registration criteria to deter criminals from participating in the industry and ensure strategic limitation and prohibition of foreign control over certain sectors of our security industry.

With better funding of the regulation of the private security industry, we hope PSIRA will be able to improve service delivery issues. This can include amongst others, by ensuring increase in national footprint of PSIRA walk-in centers, recruitment of more inspectors to drive visible compliance monitoring in the private security industry and better ICT infrastructure to assist with compliance monitoring.

We have started the process of putting the Private Security Levies Act into operation.  This piece of legislation will ensure equitable billing of levies in our private security industry.  Currently, small companies are charged the same levies with those of bigger and better companies.

We have recently reviewed annual fees which have been unchanged for the past nine years.  We received industry comments and we are considering them.  We urge that you support the Authority by paying your levies in time so that it can regulate better.

Our recent change of the PSIRA Council and management are bearing fruits.  We have seen impressive improvement of the process of turning the institution around.  Many areas of service delivery such as registration are improving.   Communication with stakeholders is also improving.  We are further told that the staff morale at PSIRA has improved and the internal corruption cleanup process is underway.

Amongst the achievements to celebrate, PSIRA has, for the first time since its establishment in 1997, received an unqualified Audit Finding from the Auditor-General for its 2010/2011 financial year.  As the police leadership we have publicly congratulated the PSIRA Council and its management for this big achievement.

The prevalence of un-accounted for firearms and ammunition in the hands of some of the mushrooming private security companies is a worrying situation to us.  Through the current legislative process that is underway we should be able to ensure the industry is properly regulated and managed.  This is a process that must happen, and happen soon.

We need to better understand this industry and the challenges it faces because without such verification we run the risk of harbouring criminals, have guards who are not vetted and infiltrating the industry with people who should not even be here. 

In advocating proper control of firearms, we led from the front as a department. As most of you would recall, we came before the nation last year to announce a turn-around strategy following numerous complaints about the SAPS Central Firearms Registry.  In the main, the challenges and problems related to the backlog of applications for firearm licenses.

The process instituted in November 2010 to address concerns about the implementation of the Firearms Control Act has now been completed and I will be making a public announcement on the matter.  Processes and procedures have been developed to deal with the inflow and outflow of applications. Management of personnel and resources has been improved.  We should be able to further outline lessons learnt from this experience to ensure we avoid that negative occurrence. 

We continue to strengthen closer cooperation on enforcement strategies in order to ensure that greater and tighter control is exercised on the firearms in the industry.  We are looking to explore smarter ways and means to better monitor firearms in this industry.  Our recent concerns are the non-reporting of lost firearms as well as non-reporting of firearms that are no longer in use when security companies cease to trade.

On the occasion of the release of the national crime statistics in September this year, we shared with the nation challenges and successes in the fight against crime.  In the main there were more positives, from a viewpoint that in many crime categories such as murder and business robberies, there were significant declines. 

Our ongoing review and measurement of crime statistics inform us that there has been a decline in both the number of cash-in-transit heists and the cash loss as a result of these heists.   While we may be pleased to learn about some of these declines, we still remain concerned.  We acknowledge that some of these successes were achieved through the contribution of the private security industry.

Such successes were not achieved coincidentally, however through proper policing, changes in legislations, commitment from both police and society and a stance that says: enough is enough about crime!  This was firmly supported by a strategy to tackle crime and give expression to government’s prioritization, through a multi-facetted approach. 

Equally, we also need to be frank about challenges we have experienced from some of the companies that are operating in this industry.  Unless we begin to tackle these challenges head-on, we are unlikely to sustain and consolidate our gains and rather may end up experiencing more negative effects than positives.

As government, we clearly understand and have supportive evidence that indicates that for us to make visible strides and succeed in the fight against crime, it is important to engage and involve various stakeholders who share our vision: that of making South Africa a safer destination.

The crime statistics further showed a significant decline in the number of cash-in-transit robberies in the past financial year.  This is indeed encouraging and again, as we highlighted such progress can to a large extent be attributed to better coordination between the SAPS and the various private security companies.  As part of sustaining this decline, we have together with other role-players introduced preventative measures through information-sharing, particularly the banking sector.

Research and trends have evidently indicated that the type of criminals who are involved in cash-in-transit heists are highly organized and plan these attacks with relative precision.  Sadly as part of their modus operandi when executing these heinous crimes, they plan to eliminate whatever and whoever is in front of them, irrespective of whether it is the lives of law-abiding citizens or police officers.

Clearly we are not dealing with up-and-coming criminals here but people who also have access to a variety of weaponry and are able to upscale this weaponry, should the conditions necessitate it.  In some cases, these robbers often make use of ‘inside information’ when planning and executing heists. 

We recognize that there are a variety of different companies with different resources available to them and what we need to look at is a set of minimum standards that will be implemented by all companies.  We need to ensure all companies take seriously their responsibilities to protect not only their clients but also their guards and the public who are affected by cash-in-transit heists.

What the above challenges tell us is that, government’s intervention is not only paramount but a necessity.  As much as private security companies can arrest these suspects, at the end, it is the police who must open cases and prosecute.  Without this proper coordination between these two organizations, criminals will have a field day. And we are saying, that cannot happen hence we have already commenced with our legislative interventions.

This dramatic shift in the nature and commission of such crimes has necessitated an extensive overhaul of some of the current legislations.  We want to emphasize that government does not intend to run the human resources of private security companies, however, as and when we need to know who the employees are, whether they are correctly vetted, we will do so.

The challenge facing this industry is one of transformation and whilst you undertake this process, you also need to ensure that lives of citizens are not compromised.  It is a ship which must be fixed whilst sailing and we have the confidence that this can be attained, if we all work together towards a common goal not in direct opposites.

But our starting point is premised on two considerations, firstly, that the battle against crime cannot be separated from the war on want. In the main, incidents of contact crime such as murder, grievous bodily harm and rape occur among acquaintances in poor communities where living and entertainment environments do not allow for decent family and social life.

Secondly, we also recognize that crime is a scourge that does not respect borders, with syndicates that have made the entire globe the theatre of their operations. The networks of crime have grown in their reach and sophistication across national boundaries. In the process some of these syndicates would see private security as a vehicle to interconnect with.  We urge you to resist and report such practices.

As we conclude, we want to emphasize that government understands the centrality of mobilizing society to make life difficult for criminals in our midst. At the same time we will enhance our systems of border control and improve the capacity of our defence force and intelligence agencies to secure the integrity of our country. 

It is widely acknowledged that crime prevention is not simply the business of government – the role of civil society is equally important. South Africa is fortunate to have a well developed, vibrant, and organized civil society participating in the safety and security sector.

We are confident that today’s engagement represents a new chapter in our engagements.  As we move forward with this partnership which focuses on a government-directed-and-led strategy, we will be able to assist in making South Africa a safer place.  As the private security industry, you have a crucial role in helping us achieve this mandate.

The future of the private security industry is looking bright.  There is better regulation and cooperation from all industry stakeholders in ensuring compliance and enforcement of the laws of the country.  As a result we will see the industry growing better than today.

Together, with the Private Security Industry, We Can Do More To Fight Crime.

I thank you.

Zweli Mnisi

Chief Director: Communications/Spokesperson

Ministry of Police

Republic of South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)12 393 4341 & +27 (0)21 467 7007

Fax: +27 (0)12 393 2833 & +27 (0)21 467 7033

Mobile: +27 (0)82 045 4024

Email: [email protected]