South Africa to restrict private security companies

Cape Town, Feb 26: South Africa’s Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa Tuesday fielded a bill to parliament with the aim of restricting foreign ownership of private security companies.

The Private Security Regulations Amendment Bill seeks to strengthen control over the regulation of the private security industry, including security services rendered from South Africa to other countries, Mthethwa told MPs, Xinhua reported.

Currently there are more than 445,000 registered private security guards compared to just over 270,000 armed-statutory forces, namely the South African Police Service (SAPS) and South African National Defense Force (SANDF), according to the minister.

The number of private security almost doubles that of South Africa’s combined statutory forces, he said.

The growth of the private security industry is not unique to South Africa. Internationally, the private security industry has grown significantly over the last two decades. However the growth of the South African private security industry has out-stripped other countries.

One reason for the rapid growth in private security companies is rising crime. Police’s incompetence in fighting crimes is also a major contribution, critics say.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the police have been under intense scrutiny by the state and the public, but this is not the case with the private security industry, whose accountability is purely market-driven, Mthethwa claimed.

Both the government and civil society have been concerned with the effective regulation of the industry, and the Amendment Bill seeks to address the challenges that have been experienced with regard to effective regulation, he said.

IANS