Robertson details future of SAIS

July 2014 Associations, News

The South African Institute of Security (SAIS) has existed for many years under the leadership of various chairs. Today, Bruce Robertson chairs the board of governors; he spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about the future of the institute.

Bruce Robertson
Bruce Robertson

Robertson’s key goal is to see the institute playing a key role in the development of a professional body for the security industry. SIAS has played a significant role in the development of training and skills in the industry and this will continue. However, Robertson says the industry is in dire need of a professional body that can set the standards for individual and company performance and behaviour.

As a member of SIA, the Security Industry Alliance, Robertson says the support of the association and its members is necessary to form a professional body. The security industry is renowned for being very competitive and this has resulted in some companies taking shortcuts. Not only is this unethical, it has consequences for the entire industry.

For one thing, security operators skimp on their responsibilities to their staff, not paying into a provident fund for example. Not only is this illegal, it is also a complete lapse of corporate governance – and it’s not only the small bakkie brigade companies responsible for this. Furthermore, many don’t pay their registration fees, money that should be used to advance the industry and aid in education etc.

These companies not only avoid their governance responsibilities, but are also able to undercut honest companies when bidding for contracts. Put simply, this means it actually pays to adopt illegal and unethical business practices because there is no enforcement or consequences for these businesses. The authority supposedly regulating the industry is unwilling or unable to do its job.

A professional body, set up in the optimal way, can change the industry and raise the bar for the activities of its players. This would gain the industry respect and even the playing field. He adds that he would like to also see customers held responsible for hiring non-compliant companies. They already pay the price in terms of quality and reliability, but law enforcement should also penalise them for retaining the services of unethical service providers.

Education still critical

Part of Robertson’s ideal is to ensure that SAIS continues to play an influential role in education. From one perspective, the goal is to create a professional management body that upholds a high standard of behaviour and performance, and sets an example. It is also determined to attract more of the younger, up-and-coming security professionals who may currently see SAIS as an old boys’ club.

Not only will the institute be focusing on attracting the next industry leaders, it is also already examining ways in which to diversify the industry as well as the board. A programme to attract members of colour as well as female members is being implemented.

Looking further down the ladder, he also foresees including operational employees in the professional body in future to replicate best practices to all levels of the industry. Education is key to realising this goal and SAIS will continue to work with the educational bodies to improve and advance education in the security industry. It is already dealing with organisations such as UNISA, SAQA and SASSETA, and wants to maintain its involvement in further developments.

The institute’s continual development programme (CPD) is therefore key. Although it is already in place, Robertson says it will be updated to support the new aims of SAIS and the needs of the industry.

An interesting opportunity may present itself at IFSEC SA in 2015. Although still in the discussion phase, the organisers of IFSEC and SAIS are looking at introducing an Excellence in Security awards programme at IFSEC SA 2015. This will be similar to the awards held at IFSEC UK and can be used to highlight the contributions of various security industry players.

Discussion required

To achieve the institute’s goals, Robertson says there still needs to be significant discussions. These will not only involve talking to external bodies, but also internal talks to finalise the new constitution for SAIS. This will include changing the association into a not-for-profit company to allow it to carry out its expanded mandate and bring new members onto the board.

He expects this to begin in August this year at the SAIS AGM, when the board will need to elect two new members to replace retirees, after which the new constitution will be ratified. For more information on SAIS, please contact the SAIS Administration Office on +27 (11) 455 3157 or

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