A revised Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority Bill that will address weaknesses and gaps in the regulation of the country’s 400 000 guards is headed for the National Assembly, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa says.
The Bill is with State Law Advisors for certification before introduction to Parliament, the minister this morning told the Annual Conference of the Security Industry Alliance at the Wanderers Club in Illovo, Johannesburg.
“The proposed changes will see us ensuring better capacitating of the regulator in order to effectively police the private security industry,” Mthethwa said. “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 8828 private security companies to regulate with over 400 000 security officers…
“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,” Mthethwa said. “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 centres, recruitment of more inspectors to drive visible compliance monitoring in the private security industry and better ICT infrastructure to assist with compliance monitoring.”
Mthethwa also said his department has 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. … 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,” the minister said.
“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.”