Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority: briefing on State of Security Industry

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Police

07 November 2006
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Meeting report

SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
08 November 2006
PRIVATE SECURITY INDUSTRY REGULATORY AUTHORITY: BRIEFING ON STATE OF SECURITY INDUSTRY

Chairperson
: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) Annual Report 2005/06
[available shortly at www.sira-sa.co.za]
PSIRA presentation on its Annual Report
PSIRA website

SUMMARY
The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority presented its Annual Report to the Committee. Among the Committee’s main concerns were how the Authority was dealing with the ongoing crisis with cash-in-transit vehicles and how it was dealing with the impending national strike. The delegation was roundly congratulated for the Authority’s progress over the past year.

MINUTES
Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority Annual Report 2005/06
Mr Seth Mogadi (PSIRA Chief Executive Officer) was accompanied by Adv Ngoako Ramatlhodi (PSIRA Council Chairperson), Dr Fazel Randera (PSIRA Council Vice Chairperson), Mr Ntuzi Mbodla (Deputy Director: Legal Services).

Mr Mogadi explained that the Council that governed the Authority was independent from the private security industry, with its members having no direct or indirect financial or personal interest therein. The Authority was a statutory, semi-autonomous, self-funding organ of state and was charged with the responsibility of exercising control over the private security industry.

The Authority was established by the Private Security Industry Regulation Act to achieve and maintain a trustworthy and legitimate security industry. It had to ensure that the security industry did not threaten the public interest or the industry's reputation. It had to promote professionalism, principles of democracy and the satisfaction of the needs of the community by the industry and enforce a code of conduct for security service providers.

The objectives of the Authority included:
▪ determining and enforcing minimum standards for the industry;
▪ promoting and protecting the status and interests of security service providers;
▪ ensuring registration of security service providers was transparent, fair and objective;
  ensuring equal opportunity employment practices in the industry.

There were a number of challenges facing the Authority due to the growth of the industry. Firstly, the need to increase its monitoring capacity in order to execute its core regulatory mandate. Secondly, the need to review the regulatory legislative framework based on the lessons learned from its implementation to date. Thirdly, to achieve a closer cooperation with other state law enforcement agencies. Fourthly, the need to encourage self-regulation in the industry.

Other aspects covered by the presentation (see document) were an overview of its key activities and achievements, the numbers and types of inspections, the number of criminal prosecutions and many other statistics, expenditure and staff complement information as well as replies to questions raised by this Committee previously.

Discussion
Mr L Diale (ANC) asked if the delegation could clarify what relationship PSIRA had with the Scorpions, and with the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Mr Mogadi replied that PSIRA had relationships with these organs at various levels. With the Scorpions, they had some relationships at a strategic level, but most of the interaction was at operational level. Within SAPS, a unit had been created one or two years previously specifically to help PSIRA, which was designated to assist the private security industry. There was also a relationship with SAPS in terms of the issuance of firearms and the clearing of fingerprints as part of its registration process.

Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked how the Authority dealt with contraventions of the minimum wage standard within the industry.

Mr Mogadi replied that PSIRA had opened quite a few cases relating to this. The contraventions and the fines that PSIRA imposed related specifically to failure by the employer to pay a minimum wage.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) said that the Committee needed to congratulate PSIRA for its initiative. The legislation that had established the Authority was very unpopular within the industry at the time of its introduction, but now it seemed unthinkable that such an industry as private security, with nearly one million employees and more than 200 000 companies, could go unregulated.

She commented that it was a pity that the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) was not at the meeting. PSIRA was regulating something far bigger and possibly more complicated than the South African Police Service. The Committee could clearly see from PSIRA’s statistics that there were more inspections and more results compared with what the ICD was doing. It would be good for the ICD to take advantage of some of PSIRA’s knowledge.

On the matter of the ongoing cash-in-transit heists, she noted that the vehicles were not bullet proof, could not lock properly, and sometimes could not drive properly. She asked if the Authority was looking into that. She did not believe that it was SAPS’s responsibility to ‘guard the guardian’. In the end, SAPS got involved because circumstances required that of them.

Mr Mogadi replied that this was a matter for PSIRA to look into jointly with the Department of Transport. They needed to look at the technical specifications for the type of vehicles necessary for cash-in-transit purposes.

Ms van Wyk asked about the type of research that had been done and some of the interesting things that had come out of it.

Mr Mogadi replied that research had been identified by the PSIRA Council as one of the key factors influencing what PSIRA did. PSIRA was looking at both international and local best practices. It was also looking at its own local experiences as to how it should incorporate that best practice into its own operation. Two of the research questions that PSIRA was looking at were, firstly, the role of the private security industry in fostering democracy and, secondly, how PSIRA could tighten its net on illegal, unregistered security providers.

Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) said that as a regulatory body, PSIRA, seemed to have a great deal more administrators than inspectors. She wondered what impact that had on the work it was trying to do.

Mr Mogadi replied that the explanation for the high proportion of administrative staff was that registration was one of PSIRA’s core activities, needing a large component of administrative staff. This did not mean that PSIRA should not increase its inspecting capacity, because that was also a core activity. That was an element that the Authority was currently working on.

Ms Kohler Barnard also expressed her disagreement with the honourable Member Ms van Wyk on the issue of SAPS’s prospective involvement. As there were almost war-like conditions that cash-in-transit operations were working under, this warranted SAPS intervention.

Mr F Randera (Vice-chairperson, PSIRA) added a few points to Mr Mogadi’s answers. He pointed out that the Council was relatively young and he thought that many of the questions were relevant to that youthfulness. Secondly, in PSIRA’s work, it was in cooperation with several governmental departments, such as Safety and Security and Labour. Those relationships were being cemented and thus it was work in progress. Thirdly, Council had recognised that research was one area that it needed to get on top of. PSIRA had made contact with departments at UNISA, Johannesburg University and Kwazulu-Natal University where research was being done on the private security industry.

Ms J Sosibo (ANC) referred to the failure to pay a minimum wage by some employers, and asked if PSIRA was taking the matter to the bargaining council.

Mr Mogadi replied that as of now there was no bargaining council for the private security industry. It was something that was currently being considered. PSIRA had been in discussions with the Department of Labour as well as the Minister of Safety and Security about this. In the absence of a bargaining council, PSIRA did continue to enforce minimum wages. It was a mandate shared between PSIRA and the Department of Labour. Companies which had been found not to be complying with the minimum wage standard, had had hefty fines imposed on them. The Department of Labour was there to ensure that there was also restitution for the victims, along with the fines.

Ms Sosibo asked if there was any penalty imposed on those security providers practising without being registered.

Mr Mogadi replied that PSIRA had a code of conduct whereby for every offence committed by a service provider, there was an established minimum penalty system. The most common offences included the use of unregistered security personnel and the use of untrained personnel. It also regarded those two as the most serious types of offences and they were PSIRA’s priority.

Ms Kohler Barnard returned to the issue of the country being on the verge of another national strike. She asked if PSIRA played a mediatory role between those considering going on strike and the employers.

Mr Mogadi replied that usually it would be a matter between the employer and the employee, but that that did not mean that PSIRA did not intervene, especially in the current absence of a bargaining council.

Ms van Wyk asked what the impact of the Mercenary Activity Bill was on the private security industry.

Mr N Mbodla (Deputy Director: Legal Sevices, PSIRA) replied that since 2002, the position of the Authority regarding mercenaries had been very clear. Section 39 of its legislation specifically prohibited mercenary activity.

She then asked if PSIRA had any statistics on the number of people killed as a result of actions by the private security industry.

Mr Mogadi replied that PSIRA did receive all kinds of complaints relating to the industry, including deaths as a result of its activities, and it did keep information with regard to that. This was not, however, the type of information that PSIRA got on a regular basis.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation for its briefing and hoped that the concerns raised by the committee members would be more fully addressed at its next briefing.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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