PSIRA says security guards not empowered to do crowd control during student protests
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THE Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) says it has that found private security companies were engaged in crowd control during student protests, something that was beyond their scope.
Briefing the joint meeting of higher education and police portfolio committees, PSIRA head of research and development Sabelo Gumedze said the study it conducted in 2019 showed that a number of tertiary institutions were constantly faced with student protests.
“Police usually delay in responding to these violent protects thus making universities contract private security companies,” Gumedze said.
He also said a number of the security companies engaged in crowd control, which was beyond their scope of security service work.
“Crowd control is monopoly of the police. Private security companies are not equipped to control crowds.”
Gumedze stated that there were regulatory concerns in relation private security companies’ involvement in student protests.
One of these was linked to Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) accrediting security training course on crowd control.
He said the tertiary institutions were not well-verse with PSIRA requirements for the use of private security companies.
“The uniforms used by private security officers during protests create an impression that they are members of SAPS and/or SANDF.”
Gumedze also said their role was to protect or safeguard people or properties.
“When protests become violent, they (security gurads) get into a space of police and act as if they are police officers.”
The security companies, said Gumedze, were the first respondents to demonstrations and civil unrest.
“In terms of the PSIRA code of conduct for security providers, they must assist SAPS with any relevant information. This may include intelligence information about dynamics within the university setting and what students plan for purposes to secure and safe guard the university.”
He said security companies should not complement the work of SAPS and not necessarily substitute them.
“They must not emulate SAPS (Public Order Policing) because they are not qualified. Even if trained, they don’t understand the dynamics that entail when individuals form a crowd.
“The act of a security service provider may be contravention of the PSIRA code of conduct and a criminal offence. Improper conduct dockets may be registered against the security service providers who transgresses he applicable legislation,” he said, adding that penalties could be imposed on the culprits.
“As PSIRA we do encourage compliance to ensure higher education institutions are aware of PSIRA requirements.”
Higher education portfolio committee chairperson Nompendulo Mkhatshwa described the presentation as eye-opening and shocking.
“I think your presentation was alarming and contributes in many ways,” Mkhatshwa said.
Higher Education Department director-general Nkosinathi Sishi said they noted the report by PSIRA that some security companies that were not compliant with registration criteria.
“Any institution that uses such individual in the private industry that are not registered we will have to take action against those institutions.
“It should not be accepted that this is the case. The department will work with institutions to ensure safety and security to all,” Sishi said.
DA MP Okkie Terblanche applauded action taken against non-compliant security firms.
“I am glad that they are investigated and some even get criminally charged,” Terblanche said.