3 new private security changes for South Africa

 ·4 Nov 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Act in October 2021, introducing stricter regulations around South Africa’s private security sector.

While the law is yet to officially come into effect, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has welcomed the new legislation, which it says will improve the conditions and protections of security sector employees.

The trade federation pointed to several specific changes in the new Act, which it said should significantly improve working conditions and service within the industry:

  • Minimum conditions of service – Cosatu said that security companies often treat security guards as little more than ‘glorified slaves’ and fodder in the face of highly armed and dangerous cash in transit syndicates.
  • Minimum training standards – The Act introduces minimum training standards for security guards to help ensure that they can perform their duties effectively and to be able to protect their own lives, Cosatu said.
  • Minimum standards for Cash in Transit security This is critical as CIT security are often sent into extremely dangerous conditions with insufficient training, weaponry, close body, and armoured vehicle protection against CIT syndicates which are well resourced and often highly skilled former military personnel from neighbouring states, Cosatu said.

Some unwelcome changes

While the industry has broadly welcomed these parts of the Act, some groups have warned that the regulations are overreaching and could ultimately cause damage to the industry.

The legislation has been a source of controversy for several years, facing backlash from opposition parties and parts of the security sector. One of the key sticking points is that the Act introduces a 51% South African ownership requirement.

It also gives the police minister the power to unilaterally prescribe a different percentage of ownership and control in respect of different categories of a security business if he deems this to be in the interests of the national security of South Africa.

The opposition Democratic Alliance has come out in strong opposition to the regulations, which it warns will lead to further international disinvestment and job losses.

The group has accused the government of effectively trying to expropriate the property of foreign investors by denying their companies the right to do business in South Africa unless they sell their majority stake.

The DA added that some of the biggest security companies that help keep South Africans safe have significant foreign ownership.

Read: Mandatory vaccinations for government workers being considered in South Africa

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