Private security industry in South Africa

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The private security industry in South Africa is an industry providing guarding, monitoring, armed reaction, escorting, investigating and other security-related services to private individuals and companies in the country. South Africa's private security industry is one of the largest in the world.[citation needed] This is attributed by some to the country's former high levels of crime to a lack of public funds from Parliament towards the South African Police Service (SAPS) or to an increasing trend in many countries towards government outsourcing of certain security functions.[1]

The private security industry in South Africa is the largest in the world,[2] with nearly 9,000 registered companies and 400,000 registered active private security guards, more than the South African police and army combined.[3]

Services offered[edit]

Security companies in South Africa provide services in several disciplines, most smaller companies specialising in just one or two.[citation needed] According to the Beeld Newspaper (Friday 22 October 2010) there were 2722 Security Companies with 151 991 Security Guards employed in Gauteng province alone. (JHB/ PTA Area) Thus, an approximate ratio of one police for every two-point six Private Security Officers is estimated in the country, although in the Private Security Sector the ratio of 'admin' to 'active operations' is much higher (in favour of 'Active').

P.S.I.R.A. also comments that there are 9,320 (Active) Security Companies registered compared to about 1127 Police Stations, 190 000 Police Officers (of which about 35,000 are Reservists) in South Africa. Inspections by 47 P.S.I.R.A. Inspectors were performed at 6611 Companies. About 12000 applications for registration by both Companies and Individuals were turned down between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011 due to reasons such as previous criminal activities.

According to the last year report as tabled in Parliament since 2001 the amount of Registered Companies has increased by 61 percent and the amount of Registers Security Officers by 111 percent. The previous CEO Mr. Seth Mogapi was fired in July 2009 and the new CEO Mr. Manabela Chauke has been appointed as from 1 September 2010.

According to the Sunday Independent Newspaper dated 16 March 2014 page 7, using P.S.I.R.A. as a source, there is in 2014 (March) 445 507 Registered (active and currently employed) Security Officers (guards) in South Africa, for the 2012/2013 year there is 1 953 605 Registered (active and currently employed plus inactive) Security Officers on their system, up from the 2012/2011 year with 1 678 027 Registered (active and currently employed plus inactive) Security Officers, an increase of nearly 25 percent.

Manned guarding[edit]

Manned guarding a service where the presence of security guard ensures the safety of assets, premises or people. In terms of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Act, the grading that security guards receive determines the type of guarding he or she can perform. (as well as the scale of pay). Many companies offer fixed (i.e. static) guarding services but the majority of workers employed in this respect are employed for unarmed duties, i.e. recording ingress/ egress movement, calling armed response if necessary.[citation needed]

Assets in transit (AIT)[edit]

AIT refers to the transportation of valuable assets under armed guard, and generally in specialised, armoured vehicles. Mostly, currency is transported between business premises and banks, but other high value assets are also occasionally transported such as bullion & precious stones.

In the past, relatively few, (usually large) companies provided AIT services but recently smaller, more localised and specialised companies have begun to emerge in the sector.

AIT operations are frequently the target of violent robberies, called cash-in-transit heists. Many security personnel are killed each year in these attacks, substantially increasing the cost of AIT services.[citation needed]

Recently,[when?], the South African Police Service together with other Law Enforcement agencies had tremendous success in reducing violent crimes against business, especially during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. These facts are confirmed by Chambers of Business throughout the Country.

One of the primary reasons for this success is improved training for security personnel. Security officers working in the Assets in Transit Industry also have to do extra specialisation courses approved by P.S.I.R.A. such as Cash in Transit, Armed Response, National Key Points, Fire Arm Competency Course, and recently, P.S.I.R.A. has become extremely strict about the registration of Security Personnel, the instructors who are authorised and judged competent to give Courses and the Security Companies and other Role Players who are able to do so. Furthermore minimum training standards are strictly prescribed and inspected for every single specific course, and inspections by trained P.S.I.R.A. inspectors are done throughout the Republic of South Africa.

Physical security[edit]

Physical security companies install security devices at premises and homes, and in cars. Devices include security fencing, motorised gates and garages, burglar proofing, security doors and gates, locks and safes, car alarms and vehicle tracking systems.

Alarm monitoring and armed response[edit]

Alarm monitoring and armed response companies are employed to monitor burglar alarm systems. If an alarm is triggered, the company dispatches mobile armed security personnel to ensure the safety of property and people.ADT Security, IPSS Electronic Security and Chubb Security are the largest providers of armed response services in South Africa.[citation needed]


Technology services include the installation of electronic security devices such as CCTV, electronic access control systems and related equipment.

Security consulting[edit]

Companies providing security consulting advise their clients on the security measures they need to take to protect their property, businesses or homes -following a procedure referred to as 'Threat Assessment'.

Security legislation[edit]

Since the late 1980s the security industry has been regulated according to the Security Officers Act of 1987.[4] Before 1994[citation needed], security companies had to comply with the requirements of the Security Officers Board (SOB). The SOB determined wages and accreditation, and established a code of behaviour for security companies and their employees.

Many[who?] considered the SOB an ineffective regulator, as it had too few staff, and many security companies did not comply with the regulation requiring them to register themselves and all of their employees with the board. It was therefore unable to compel companies to comply with minimum wage requirements, and prevent them from employing illegal immigrants.[citation needed]

Because of these concerns, the South African parliament enacted the Private Security Industry Regulatory Act, which established the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority. The authority has been more successful at regulating the industry than its predecessor.[citation needed] This is borne out by the number of Registered Security Companies increasing from 5491 to 9320 and the number of Registered Security Officers, Graded from A to E respectively in descending order of qualifications. This, following a PSIRA and SAPS fingerprints background check.

Grade A is the most senior Security Officer, owners of a CC or PTY must be Registered as at least PSIRA Grade B to run a Security Service Provider in South Africa. If for any reason whatsoever, solely one Member of a Close Corporation or one of the Directors of a Company is disqualified (e.g. due to a criminal Conviction on a Serious Criminal Offence), then the entire Close Corporation and/or Company's Registration is immediately withdrawn by P.S.I.R.A. Then the Entity may no longer provide Security Services. This rule is very strictly enforced by P.S.I.R.A.. Under new (SASSETA-based) rules, no Registrations for a Grade is permitted without a Certificate Proof of a Course performed by a SASSETA-accredited Security Training Provider and Academy, all Training Providers must be on the SASSETA list with a dedicated Registration Authorization Number. Specific Courses -known as Unit Standards, (now compiled by FET Colleges and SAQA, SA Qualifications Authority). Security Officers are given Learner Guides, written and oral assignments in 'Learner Workbooks', then finally a Summative Assessment (Written Test). Most Service Training Providers have a 70% pass mark for examinations, overseen by SASSETA-accredited 'Assessors' and 'Moderators'.

During March 2014 the Private Security Independent Regulation Amendment Bill has been passed by Parliament, awaiting the signature of the State President to sign it into law. This new law will prohibit foreign ownership of South African Registered Security companies to a maximum of 49 percent. Currently between 40 000 and 45 000 Security Officers are employed by foreign owned Companies such as ADT, a subsidiary of Tyco International of Switzerland, and G4S, a British owned Security Company. According to the South African Sunday Newspaper Rapport dated Sunday 23 March 2014 the two biggest in size Security Armed Response and Security Technology Companies for services to Residential Units and Small Businesses, ADT and Chubb is both in a similar situation. ADT and Chubb are both Stock Exchange listed in the USA with ADT with 10 500 employees and Chubb with 2358 employees.

Many Acts of Parliament such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act, the Skills Development Act the Employment Equity Act and the Protected Disclosures Act have improved the working conditions of Security Officers.

Until quite recently, the SA security industry has not enjoyed minimum wage or maximum working hours specified by legislation. Instead, these regulations were determined by sectoral determinations issued by the labour Minister. (i.e. Amendments)

Private Security legislation does not apply to the National Defense Force (Army, Navy Etc.) the National Intelligence Agency nor the Secret Service.

Crime is defined in the Republic of South Africa as unlawful human conduct, known as an Offence. The most serious Offences referred to as 'Schedule One Offences' as set down by the National Prosecuting Authority, (NPA)

Industry bodies[edit]

In addition to the regulatory bodies established by the South African government, the security industry has established a number of bodies to regulate itself. Membership of these bodies being voluntary. They include:

  • Security Association of South Africa (SASA), open to companies offering any type of security service;
  • South African National Security Employers Association (SANSEA), an employers' organisation for companies in the Security Sector.
  • Electronic Security Distributors Association (ESDA), an association of importers and distributors of electronic security equipment
  • South African Intruder Detection Services Association (SAIDSA), an association of companies providing alarm monitoring and armed response services
  • Safety & Security Sector Education & Training Authority (SASSETA)
  • Vehicle Security Association of South Africa (VESA)

Of the 197 Registered Trade Unions trade union in South Africa, Security industry personnel have many options, SATAWU, SCMAWU, SAPSWU, SAWTUSA, FOCSWU, NSWU, SOCRAWU and others, most of whom are members of COSATU Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Involvement of foreign companies[edit]

Several multinational corporations have invested in the South African security industry, and have come to dominate sections of it.[citation needed] These include Tyco International, United Technologies Corporation, and Top Holdings, who operate the companies ADT, Chubb South Africa and Top Security, respectively.

Other multinational corporations that operated in South Africa have sold their local subsidiaries to South African companies, sometimes as part of Black Economic Empowerment deals. These deals include the absorption of Khuselani Springbok by Fidelity.[citation needed]

The South African security companies Fidelity and Coin Security, amongst others, have themselves established large overseas operations.

Recently Coin and Protea has joined forces to from Protea Coin Security, which is actively involved together with Fidelity in Cash Transport Management Services, known in the Industry in the Republic of South Africa as Assets in Transit (AIT).

2006 strike action[edit]

Street violence occurred during the 2006 security strike

In 2006, private security personnel went on strike across South Africa. The strike lasted 96 days and cost the industry more than a million working days.[5] The strike was supported by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union and 15 other trade unions.[6] The striking workers looted and damaged property, and committed violent crimes.[7][8]

Active steps to improve prescribed minimum levels of pay as per grades, job specifications and areas have since been taken in an attempt to prevent the re-occurrence of such unfortunate and embarrassing occurrences.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "South Africa has world's largest private security industry; needs regulation – Mthethwa". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bigger than the army: South Africa's private security forces". CNN. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Regulation in South Africa". Monograph No 39: Policing for Profit. South African Institute for Security Studies. August 1999. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  5. ^ Report - Industrial Action Report 2006 - Introduction.pdf, Industrial Action – Annual Report 2006. Department of Labour. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-9802645-6-2.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Report - Industrial Action Report 2006 - Introduction.pdf, Industrial Action – Annual Report 2006. Department of Labour. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-9802645-6-2.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Schroeder, Fatima (18 April 2006). "Shops looted as security strike continues". Cape Times. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 
  8. ^ "Strike Actions of Security Workers – QUESTIONS TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA". Department of International Relations and Cooperation. 18 May 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 

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