The Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa today made a rare, and surprise, visit to the Portfolio Committee on Police to brief them on the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill.
As proposed, this Bill will potentially lead to massive job losses, decrease investment in South Africa and pose a security risk to all South Africans. The upshot of the Bill is that there will be fewer trained law enforcement and security personnel available.
This will leave all citizens, and especially the poor who rely on the SAPS as their sole source of protection, more vulnerable to crime as SAPS will have to spread their resources more thinly.
The Bill seeks to limit foreign ownership in private security companies to 49% and gives the Minister the power to determine the percentage of foreign ownership and control in respect of different categories of the security business. This is nothing short of expropriation – and should 51% of the shares in the company be sold to a South African, there is no guarantee that the shares will not then be sold on to a foreigner. It also claims that permanent residents (foreigners granted the right to live and work here) may not be involved in this industry. This is clearly illegal.
It is not just citizens and businesses that depend on private security companies. Government departments spend millions on private security firms every year.
The Minister argued in Committee today that foreign-owned private security companies pose a risk to national security. But he has never been able to explain why this is so. We challenge him to tell us in plain language why foreign-owned private security firms threaten national security. Surely private security companies that are registered with the Private Security Industry Regulation Authority (PSIRA) have passed all security checks?
South Africa’s private security industry – with a turnover of some R50 billion – has grown immensely in the last 10 years, mostly due to the inability of the state to protect its own citizens.
Our priority is the safety of the citizens of South Africa. We are opposed to this Bill precisely because it puts all residents of South Africa at greater risk.