Tag Archive | Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill

Private Security Industry Bill comes closer

Motive for Private Security Bill unclear…..

adt securityAs of this date, the Private Security Industry Bill still remains for signature by President Zuma passing it into law, having had the contentious clause that South Africans must own at least 49% of shareholding of any security companies, as proscribed in the original Bill passed by Parliament, increased to 51%.

However, from statements made by senior officials in the department of police and the minister himself it seems quite possible that government will push the law through despite the stated objections of security  industry associations and the possibility of the industry taking government to court on the matter.

The Bill introduced two years by minister Nathi Mathethwa, then a protégé of president Zuma but now reduced to the post of minister of arts and culture, posed the reasons for a controlling number of 51% being the result of the possibility of national security breaches by foreigners in South Africans affairs. This has never been defined.

Ek is die Suid-Afrikaanse

Such a matter was stated by the local security industry as being absurd since most South African management, local shareholders and certainly the majority of employees were South Africans anyway. In can only be assumed that the government thinks their are “plants” by foreign countries working in the industry, or alternatively, the reasons given by the state are a cover for some other motive, as of yet not clear.

Immediately the Bill was tabled, opposition members in Parliament pointed out that such a law would place SA not only in violation of international trade agreements but place the country in jeopardy of renewal of AGOA by the United States, of valuable export trading advantage to South Africa.

Particularly, South Africa is in danger of violating GATT agreements, but the minister of police has responded with the names of other countries discounting international agreements on the issue of local ownership control.

In a rush to close Parliament for the May elections last year, the Private Security Industry Bill, with other Bills, was hammered through Parliament using every possible ANC vote but, however with the 51% clause reduced to 49%.  This has now been reversed.

Trade and Industry unconcerned

Unless the Bill is returned to Parliament unsigned, a course, which would seemingly make the new police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko unhappy, and with minister of trade and industry (DTI), Rob Davies, appearing ambivalent on the whole issue, all would seem set for a suicidal dive into unknown international trading waters as far as obligations are concerned.

This is despite a trade delegation visit to the US on the subject. Recent statements by US congressmen and a joint letter addressed by them to SA on other possible violations of GATT by the DTI, particularly on poultry import issues threatening AGOA, are all being played down by cabinet ministers.

 American Chamber of Commerce in SA have pointed to the difficulty, not only with B-BBEE but with this proposal, the difficulty US/SA companies operating in South Africa have with their head offices in parting with ownership of their companies.

The police minister says that he “finds that South Africa will meet its trade obligations under GATT and the action will not threaten AGOA” – an unusual statement for a minister of police, whilst DTI itself, or the minister of trade and industry, still seem have their heads well below the water line.

Under the skin

Eventually, it will emerge what it that is so worrying to the department of police about companies like ADT, Tyco, Securitas, Chubb and the many Japanese, Korean and British companies involved in the manufacture and supply of security equipment….. all at the risk of disinvestment or, worse, maybe an imagined xenophobic wish for these countries not to employ ex-pats or immigrants from other parts of Africa. 

Other articles in this category or as background

No moves on new Private Security Industry law – ParlyReportSA

Private Security Industry Bill gets through Parliament – ParlyReportSA

DA’s Crucial Infrastructure Bill tabled on security – ParlyReportSA

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Private Security Industry Regulation Bill seen as unconstitutional

State call for Bill to counter “threat” not explained…….

It was during the parliamentary briefing on the Private Security Industry Regulation Bill and also in the police budget vote in Parliament, that past minister of police, Nathi Mthethwa, made the controversial remarks that foreign-owned private security companies were a threat to national security.

Consequently, said the minister at the time, the Bill before the House then being tabled made provision for the fact that all registered security companies had to be majority owned by South Africans.

private securityMinister Mthethwa, now minister of Arts and Culture, said “the growth of the private security industry in South Africa has outstripped other countries” and it was because of this sudden growth, he said, that the industry was not either properly regulated nor was it properly monitored.    The Bill outlined the kind of regulations that were to be imposed if it were passed amending the principal act accordingly.

The ministry in question has now passed to a new minister in the fifth government, Nkosinathi Nhleko.

More regulations on weapons

Subsequently, the department of police in presenting the Bill in detail to Parliament, said that because of the large number of people that the private security industry employs – many of whom are armed – it was important that the industry should be well regulated.

The Bill clearly made provision for the fact that “foreign control” of security companies could not be allowed and that majority of shares must be in the hands of South African citizens.

Consequently the issue mainly debated by parliamentarians was on the subject of regulations, particularly on firearm controls and registration of companies, since the subject of the industry being a “threat” was outside of their mandate without a proper briefing.    Repeated requests for this were ignored.

Nobody listening

Attention was drawn by opposition members of the other “threat”, the threat to investment in South Africa.    As far as the department of police was concerned and the ANC, matters regarding FDI fell on deaf ears.

When the Bill went to a vote in the National Assembly, the main opposition voted against the Bill, not on the basis of its short comings in the security industry but that the Bill in itself sent the wrong kind of message to the investment world.  They said “the smell of expropriation was in the air”.

Too many former military

In 2012, the Green Paper on Policing also referred to this threat when it expressed concerns about the private security industry’s “ability to destabilise any security situation”.  It quoted the involvement of “former military and police officers at management level” and the deployment of “highly trained, legally armed operatives” in the industry.

As pointed out by industry representatives, the Green Paper also contradicts itself by stating it was difficult to see how these companies can be seen to undermine the state’s law enforcement power. The Paper also stated that the private security industry was “increasingly performing functions which used to be the sole preserve of the police.”    This maybe is where the problem lies.

During hearings on the Private Industry Security Regulation Amendment Bill, it emerged that there are 445 400 registered active private security ‘guards’ in South Africa, which, as the Pretoria News pointed out, meant that private security members far outnumbered the 270,000 public servants in security. This is the number that includes those working for the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force, the newspaper said.

Minister makes an assumption

Meanwhile the minister also argued in his parliamentary presentation that the growth of the private security industry in South Africa “had outstripped other countries”.  It has subsequently emerged that this is not the case, according to reports in the media and that less than 10% of the local private security industry is foreign owned.

In response to the tabling of the Bill, members of the private security industry pointed out in parliamentary hearings, before any debate commenced, that the growth of their industry was directly linked to high levels of crime and violence, pointing out that private security companies have no special powers beyond those of private citizens.

Conflicting argument for Bill

In fact, on the issue of state security, the South African White Paper on Defence, in 1996, stated that one of the greatest threats to South Africa were socio-economic problems leading to a high level of crime and violence.

On the issue of “foreign control” it is now left to the new government and specifically new minister of police Nkosinathi Nhleko orNkosinathi-Nhleko deputy minister Maggie Sotyu, to explain the real reason behind the controversial clause in the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill and then to enforce regulatory changes.

Other articles in this category or as background

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More tightening up in security industry

New Bill comes before Parliament

The portfolio committee on  police has arranged public hearings on the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill, the Bill itself already having been tabled.   In a recent cabinet statement a review of past anchor legislation for the industry was undertaken to “address gaps that are caused by the lack of effective regulation of the private security industry, in particular, the threat to national security posed by the participation of foreigners”.

The aim of the Bill now before Parliament is to tighten up existing law as far as foreign ownership of private security firms operating in South Africa is concerned and to provide further regulations for the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) to enforce on the subject of firearms control and transit issues.

Other than to regulate foreign ownership and control of private security businesses, the Bill aims to provide regulations on the transportation of cash and other valuables; to allow for the setting up of a separate database on firearms issued to security service providers and provide limitations as far as services obtained from employees with a past criminal record.

If the Bill becomes law, the regulatory body PSIRA will be eligible for state funding.


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