A recent comment at Securex 2016 by Tony Botes, the secretary and administrator of the Security Association of South Africa (SASA), on how lack of training and non-compliance are hampering the security industry grabbed headlines around the country and has highlighted the importance of selecting a reputable security provider.
Botes said there were thousands of security training centres that were providing certificates to individuals seeking to enter the industry without training them. Botes noted that currently there are about 500 000 security officers in South Africa employed by 9 000 companies. Significantly he estimated that as many as 80% of these companies were non-compliant with security industry standards. He said this issue stretched from employing unregistered undocumented workers in the security industry to not complying with the industry provident fund.
“Untrained‚ unscreened security officers have little or no value‚” Botes said.
This is a view shared by Theunis Kotze, ADT General Manager Inland Region. “It is important to properly interrogate any potential private security service provider, before placing your trust in them. Asking the right questions will go a long way to ensuring your peace of mind,” he says.
Kotze suggests that questions should be asked about the candidate company’s standing with the industry’s regulatory bodies, the number of patrol vehicles that will service the area, formal training and preparedness of their officers and safety measures such as armour plated vehicles and Kevlar helmets and vests for armed response staff.
“You cannot simply compare companies on the monthly tariffs they charge,” says Kotze. “The safety of your loved ones cannot be dependent solely on financial cost considerations but rather on a careful comparison of a wide range of factors.”
Kotze suggests that the following questions be asked, to ascertain the quality and the value of the service you might receive:
- How long has the company been in business, and is security their primary business or a ‘side line’ business they manage alongside other services?
- How many armed response officers are deployed in your area, and what is the level of training they have received? What safety and protective items are they given while they carry out their duties?
- Is the company registered with all the appropriate industry and labour regulatory agencies, such as the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA)?
- What technological solutions are employed by the company? Do they keep up to date with new developments such as Licence Plate Recognition cameras, home monitoring automation systems, and mobile ‘panic button’ apps?
- What supervision systems are put in place, to manage and enforce service level agreements on the grassroots level?
- Does the company keep themselves informed on the best international practice for the private security industry?
- Do they pay their staff according to industry regulations. Registered reputable companies will all pay their staff at least the minimum statutory wage applicable in terms of the Sectoral Determination 6 for the private security industry issued by the Minister of Labour. This industry has low barriers to entry and employees can be exploited at times by unscrupulous employers. All security officers are also required to be members of a provident fund and the company must contribute at least 6.5% of their salary to the fund and the employee contributes 6.5% of their salary to the fund. Ensure your security service provider can produce a letter of good standing from its provident fund administrator.
At the end of the day the onus is actually on the consumer to do his or her homework. “Customers can be held personally liable in terms of the law for appointing unregistered, illegal security personnel to perform any security related service. There is also a very real risk to the customer if they appoint a company that has not been vetted correctly. Cheaper is not always better. If a company is substantially cheaper, specifically in guarding, that means they are not paying their staff in accordance with the sectoral wage determination. That means these guards will resort to other means of obtaining income to survive, including often turning a blind eye to crime.
“If you ask the right questions and do your homework today, you should be able to sleep assured tonight that you have appointed the best company to come to your aid when an emergency happens,” concludes Kotze.