Given South Africa’s high crime rate and the inability of the police force to provide adequate crime prevention services (due to a wide variety of circumstances), a private security industry has blossomed since the early 1990s. Whereas the previous regime passed an act that articulated that a Security Officer’s Board was to be established to regulate the private industry, the board itself (the SOB), however, proved to be unfit to properly perform the duties assigned to it by the act.
It was thus that parliament passed a new act (the Private Security Industry Regulatory Act) to establish a new body to oversee the running and quality control of the rapidly expanding industry. The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority was the body formed with the mandate to effectively regulate the proper functioning of privately owned and run security companies. In addition to the new act, the South African Parliament also passed a variety of other acts aimed at improving relations and protecting employees from exploitative practices.
These acts are mentioned elsewhere on the site, but will be reiterated: the acts include the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Employment Equity Act, the Protected Disclosures Act, the Skills Development Act, and the Labour Relations Act.
Very soon after the regulatory body’s establishment the number of registered security companies increased from 5500 to 9300. Whereas new firms would have entered the market in a short period of time, this fact alone cannot account for the almost doubling of registered companies. In addition to this, the number of registered security officers also dramatically increased.
Currently, registering as a security officer requires a SAPS and PSIRA background test. Depending on the respective officer’s level of security qualification, s/he will be allocated a grading (from A to E) that will help him/her in finding employment. Grade A is the highest grading, and is reserved for well-qualified and experienced security officers.
In order to ensure public and employee safety, as well as to protect standards, owners of a Closed Corporation (CC) or private company (PTY) must be registered with PSIRA, and, further, must be in possession of least a Grade B rating. PSIRA guards this quality control jealously and withdraws a firm’s registration if one or more of the Directors of a Company (or Members of a Closed Corporation) are disqualified, as is the case when a director or board member is convicted of a serious crime. In other words, if only one owner of a security firm commits an egregious offence, the entire company’s registration is withdrawn from PSIRA, and the company is no longer allowed, legally, to provide security-related services.
The regulatory authority further protects quality standards (and therefore consumers and the public at large) by ensuring that, in accordance with SASSETA rules, no registration for a grade is allowed without a candidate producing a Certificate as proof that a SASSETA-accredited Security Training course has been completed by the candidate.
Further, all security training providers must be on the SASSETA schools’ list and must have a Registration Authorization Number. Unit Standards (specific security courses) have been ratified by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), and all courses require the learner to write an examination after a series of oral and written assignments.