New changes could seriously damage private security in South Africa

The Democratic Alliance has warned that the proposed changes to the Private Security Industry Regulation Act could cause serious damage to South Africa’s private security industry.

At the end of May, police minister Bheki Cele gazetted a number of changes for security guards in South Africa.

In addition to strict new rules around uniforms, the amendments also include restrictions on the firearms that can be used by private security personnel.

DA shadow minister of police, Andrew Whitfield, said that it is alarming that Cele is seeking to constrain the security industry which acts to provide safer communities.

“The proposed draft regulations place an unnecessary burden on the private security industry, both administratively and financially, and transfers an over-concentration of power to the hands of the Private Security Industry Authority (PSIRA), particularly with reference to powers that should solely lie with SAPS,” he said.

“Of particular concern is the apparent duplication of the functions of the Central Firearms Registry (CFR), which is empowered by the Firearms Control Act and not the PSIRA Act to which these regulations are ascribed.”

Whitfield warned that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is not in a position to fill the gap of private security.

According to the latest 2018/2019 report by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), as many as 2.36 million security officers are registered in South Africa – with 498,435 currently employed by just over 9,000 registered and active security businesses.

It means nearly five security officers to every police officer.

Most of these security businesses and security officers are operating and employed in Gauteng followed by KwaZulu-Natal (42% and 39% respectively), and the Western Cape.

“Last year 800 firearms were stolen from SAPS and are currently being used in violent crimes and gang wars throughout our country,” Whitfield said.

“It is time for the minister to stop fiddling and rather focus on fixing SAPS so that we can build a safe South Africa for all.”

Read: Government is shaking up the rules around security guards in South Africa – here’s what you need to know

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New changes could seriously damage private security in South Africa