Friday, July 19, 2024

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Name and shame consumers who hire unregistered security companies

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Consumers, who use unregistered security companies, must be named and shamed.

This is a call from Security Association of South Africa (SASA) national administrator, Tony Botes, who reminded offending consumers that using an unregistered security company to protect homes and businesses could result in a fine of up to R1 million and/or land them behind bars for two years.

Speaking at Securex 2024, Botes said offending consumers are forcing prices down to levels that oblige security service providers to reduce their profits and eventually the remuneration of security officers just to survive.

“The tragedy in this is that very many consumers are forcing their security service providers to offer their services at “below cost”, which can only result from the security officer being remunerated at well below the statutory levels or working in excess of the statutory hours permitted.”

“It is a logical conclusion that Mr or Ms Consumer is well aware that the security personnel protecting their valuable assets are being exploited because the security company will never tender or provide services at a loss, but they still demand prime service and protection from such grossly and illegally exploited security officers,” Botes said.

The exploitation of security officers is increasing at an alarming rate, through the use of independent contractors also known as self-employed security officers; unregistered or grossly “extended” learnerships and co-operatives.

Tony Botes

He said the Code of Conduct for Security Service Providers, 2003, places statutory obligations on security service providers towards clients. Contravention of the code constitutes improper conduct, as well as a criminal offence.

However, the Act also places a specific legal duty on consumers of private security services to use only legitimate and registered security service providers.

“In terms of section 38(3)(g) of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) Act, consumers are guilty of a criminal offence and can be prosecuted for intentionally or negligently using the services of security businesses that are non-compliant with the Act.  On conviction, a consumer is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 24 months, or to both a fine and such imprisonment,” Botes said.

The use of illegal service providers could also adversely affect any insurance claim for losses relating to burglaries or robberies.

The owner of a security company based in Gauteng told ProtectionWeb the consumer “does not care” if a security company is registered or not.

“They want boots on the ground. They mostly don’t care about what goes on behind closed doors with staff and compliant companies,” he said.

The man, who did not want to be named, said unregistered security companies charge anywhere between R6000 and R12000 to deploy illegal and unregistered guards.

“These guards are sometimes paid anywhere from R2000 to R4000 we have seen this when we are quoting on sites,” he said.

However PSIRA guidelines suggest that the consumer should be charged around R20000.

“The impact is you lose business and cannot sustain the costs of trying to operate legally. The costs are insane. It’s just not a business you can compete in legally. We have mandatory costs that need to be paid, PSIRA, medical aid for guards, provident fund, bargaining council, UIF, COID, and believe it or not every guard is entitled to a bonus every year.”

“This amounts to large sums of money lost and one cannot budget for it.”

PSIRA spokesperson Bonang Kleinbooi said the Illustrative Pricing serves as a guideline and is not mandatory.

“We established this as we saw a rise where security companies and clients were not sure as to how much they should pay.”

The Association of Private Security Owners of South Africa (TAPSOSA) spokesperson Sindisiwa Changuion said the association had engaged with PSIRA on the mushrooming of illegal security companies.

“We also engaged on the need to increase inspectorate and funding so that there is sustainability in the inspection of companies that are not compliant.”

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