Security Industry Regulation Bill: hearings; Firearms Control Act Update

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23 May 2001
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


23 May 2001

: Mr M George

Documents handed out:
Security Industry Regulation Bill [B12-01]

The South African National Security Employer Industry Association, the Concerned Black Security Employers, the Security Services Employers Organisation, the South African Intruder Detection Services Association and the Northern Province Security Association made a combined presentation to the Committee.

The major issues raised were that the Bill was too draconian and too wide in its application. The presenters felt that the Bill was duplicating regulatory functions already being performed by other departments.

The Committee wanted to know why the issue of underpayment of employees still remained unresolved. The organisations stated that they would only continue funding the regulatory body if it is to be representative of the industry in the near future.

The briefing on the Regulations on the Firearms Control Act was postponed but the Committee was given clarity on the possible implementation by 1 June 2001 of certain provisions of the Firearms Control Act.

South African National Security Employer Industry Association (SANSI)
Mr Steve Friswell (SANSI) made an oral presentation to the Committee on behalf of the various employer organisations; Concerned Black Security Employers; Security Services Employers Organisation; South African Intruder Detection Services Association and the Northern Province Security Association (NOPSA).

Mr Hennie Myburgh, Mr Tony Botes, Mr Dave Waywell and Mr Gavin Kirk were other members of the delegation. Mr Friswell stated that the delegation is representative of ± 315 employers in the industry. It is recognised by the Department of Labour and almost dictates employment terms in the industry. He stated that they are the biggest force of employers in the industry and that they are not affiliated to the South African Security Federation (SASFED).

The delegation was confident that they represent 70% of employers in the industry and therefore believe that they are entitled to be involved in the legislative process. Regulation of the industry is supported as it would improve control and transparency but it should at the same time not override labour laws and skills development. Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) should not be stifled and local and foreign investment should not be discouraged by draconian regulatory measures. Sixteen of the top companies in the industry have foreign shareholders and this could be a problem if the Bill is implemented as it is.

It was felt that the scope of the Bill itself is far too wide. Locksmiths, bodyguards, bouncers and polygraphists should not fall within the ambit of the Bill. To include the aforementioned individuals would be watering down the legislation in itself. The focus of the Bill should be on regulating the security service industry.

In the Bill the powers of the regulating authority are far too expansive. They have extensive powers of search and seizure, which can only too easily be abused. There is an overlap of powers as some of the powers given to the authority are already exercised by the Department of Labour and the Labour Court. The thorny issue of the underpayment of wages can be resolved within the existing legislation of the Security Officers Act. There was a common feeling in the industry that it is unfair of government to expect them to fund the authority even though there is no accountability to the industry.

Mr Friswell stated their field of expertise is mainly in the armed response sector and that there was a mutual belief that a national bargaining council would suffice to deal with many of the issues that are dealt with in the Bill. Application has thus been made to the Department of Labour for the formation of a Council. The role of the bargaining council is to take over all aspects of labour legislation pertaining to the industry.

The delegation had a problem with the perception that the industry is involved in Third Force activities. Mr Friswell categorically stated that as far as they are concerned they have never been and never will be involved in Third Force activities. He felt it unfair of government to generalise that the entire industry is involved in such activities.
It was emphasised that the powers of security officers should be extended so as to assist the SAPS in their fight against crime. At present, security officers have the same powers of arrest as an ordinary citizen.

In conclusion it was felt that if and when a proper regulating authority is put in place the industry should be duly represented in it. Failing which government themselves would have to foot the bill for the funding of the authority.

Actual technical amendments inclusive of recommendations would be forwarded to the Committee in due course.

Mr M Pheko (PAC) asked which clauses in the Bill hamper transparency. How would the Bill restrict foreign and local investment?

Mr Kirk stated that the Bill does not provide for public involvement in the authority. He added that he is having discussions with Adv Kok (Chief Legal Advisor to the Department) on the issue.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked if the industry wishes to undertake prosecutions of unregistered companies themselves, what types of sentences would they impose.
Who will ensure employer organisations comply with labour laws if labour laws are not to be enforced by the regulating authority?
Rev Meshoe was concerned about not including locksmiths in the Bill. What stops them from engaging in illegal activities in the future?

Mr Friswell stated that the regulating authority should undertake prosecutions as the courts are already dealing with vast backlogs. The sentence could range from fines to closing down businesses in extreme cases of misconduct.
He pointed out that labour is already covered by the Labour Relations Act. The fact that the Department of Labour lacks manpower does not mean that labour should be placed in the hands of the regulating authority. The authority should stick to its function of regulating.
Mr Friswell felt it inappropriate to have locksmiths included in the Bill. Where does one draw the line? Many shoe shops even cut keys. Are they also going to be covered by the Bill?

Adv P Swart (DP) asked the following questions:
- Have the organisations present formed a body to facilitate the collective bargaining process.
- Who should specifically be excluded from the Bill?
- How is the Bill making it difficult for new businesses to enter the industry?
- What should the composition of the regulating authority ideally be?

Mr Kirk stated that including locksmiths under the ambit of the Bill would not be a solution to illegal activities by some locksmiths. The Bill would overburden the legitimate locksmith but the unregistered locksmith would in any event continue his illegal activities.
Polygraphists and extractors of truth - advocates, should be excluded along with locksmiths.
Mr Kirk stated that the existing regulating authority refuses to provide employer organisations with records on accounting, minutes of meetings etc. There is a total lack of transparency. It is for this reason that the industry wishes to have representation on the board of the regulating authority.

Mr P Zondo (ANC) asked what type of burden is the Bill placing on the industry. Is it a financial burden?

Mr Kirk stated that the industry is funding a bureaucratic authority that has absolutely no benefit to them. Why should they continue funding a useless institution?
Mr Friswell added that the Bill proposes periodic re-registrations of members to the regulating authority. He felt that the administrative burden on the larger companies would be too great.

Adv A Gaum (NNP) asked the following questions:
How would the Bill affect foreign investment in the industry?
What functions should stay with the Department of Labour?

Mr Kirk stated that the Bill does discourage foreign investment. Mr Friswell added that directors of security companies should be registered in terms of the Bill. However the Bill only allows South African citizens to be registered. What are foreign directors in South Africa to do?
Mr Kirk stated that they are constantly working with the Department of Labour. The industry is stable and well organised as far as labour is concerned. The Department of Labour co-ordinates the collective bargaining process.

The Chairperson felt that the presenters were very vague. He asked for clarity on how they wish to be involved. The Committee needs specifics on the issues that the delegation had raised.

Mr Kirk stated that they would forward documentation setting out specifics to the Committee.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) stated that much has been said about labour but that it had all been from the employers' point of view. How do employees feel? The Committee should take their views into consideration as well.

Mr Friswell stated that the union representing employee interests had made their submissions to the Committee. It is not the employers' place to state how employees feel. Employees are fed up of making contributions to a regulating authority that is doing absolutely nothing for them.

Mr A Maziya (ANC) asked what special powers should be given to security guards. What are the powers of the police that should be bestowed upon security guards?

Mr Friswell stated that security officers should be given the search and seizure powers of the SAPS as this would assist in combatting crime.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked how would the registering of foreign directors would be a problem?

The Chair stated that at present the Bill requires that in order for an individual to register with the regulating authority such a person would have to be a South African citizen.

Mr George added that it seems that the presenters have problems with the current regulating authority. He informed all present that a new regulating authority would be formed in the near future.

The Chair asked the delegation about their views on the privatisation of security for the airports and Metrorail.

Mr Friswell stated that they are in favour of privatising security for these institutions, as it would free up the SAPS to focus more on dealing with the high levels of crime.

Adv Gaum (NNP) asked the following questions:
- What are your views on inhouse security?
- The Constitution requires that a separate court be formed to deal with hearings if they are not to be dealt with through the usual courts. Is this what is being proposed?
- What is proposed as far as the procedure for inspections is concerned?

Mr Friswell stated that they are in favour of the Bill regulating in-house security.
He conceded that he is not legally trained but stated that it would be preferable for code of conduct hearings to be dealt with internally by the regulating authority.
Inspectors should show some common courtesy when conducting inspections. A phone call beforehand would be considerate.

The Chair stated that no matter how a rosy picture is painted of the industry, people are still being exploited. If the Bill is too draconian what is being done by employers to correct the imbalances in the industry ie underpayment of wages.

Mr Friswell took exception to the Chair's statement that the industry as a whole is underpaying employees. He was not aware of his employees being underpaid.
He stated that he is all for the correct payment of wages. He felt that underpayment was mainly taking place in the outlying areas. It is not the majority of the industry involved in these activities.

Rev Meshoe asked whether conditions of employment are enforced.

Mr Friswell stated that they try their best to ensure that the working environment of their employees are as comfortable as possible. At times it could be difficult. For example when a security guard has to guard a piece of ground for a day he may not have toilet facilities as it takes too long to organise it.

Firearms Control Act : Regulations
Adv Kok, Chief Legal Adviser to the Department was asked to brief the Committee on the process in finalising the regulations for the Firearms Control Act. However the majority of the Committee felt that justice would only be done to the briefing if they had a proper briefing document before them from which to follow.

The Chair instructed Adv Kok to draft a briefing document setting out chronologically the sections and the relevant inputs that were made on them. The briefing on the regulations was postponed.

Adv Kok stated that the drafting of the regulations of the Firearms Act is an ongoing process.

The Chair asked what the relationship between the regulations and the implementation of the Act is. He asked for particulars on the provisions that are to be implemented soon.

Adv Kok stated that the Minister is to put in place on the 1 June 2001 the additional powers of the SAPS as is set out in the Act such as finger printing and enforcing firearm free zones. The Minister would in the form of a notice set out the sections that would come into operation by 1 June 2001.

The Chair asked Adv Kok to provide the Committee with a document setting out the specific sections to be implemented.

The Chair stated that Adv Kok would not be able to brief them at the next scheduled meeting on 30 May 2001 as the National Commissioner, Mr Jackie Selebi is to address the Committee on the transformation process in the SAPS. He hoped for the Safety and Security Secretariat also to be present at the meeting so that meaningful discussions could be engaged in.

The meeting was adjourned.


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