Following the first exploratory meeting with SAQA and the Department of Labour (DoL) in mid-July, it is clear that the South African Electric Fence Installers Association (SAEFIA) is en route to becoming a recognised professional body.
The electric fence industry in South Africa is large with hundreds of companies offering installations in both city and rural areas. Unofficially there are over 4000 electric fence installers operating in the country and it is a hard task to find homes or estates that don’t make use of electric fencing as part of their security solution.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions speaks to Jacob Malatse, electrical and mechanical director at the DoL and Cliff Cawood, the chairperson of the EFCMA (Electric Fencing and Components Manufacturers Association) and the convener of the SAEFIA steering committee, about this matter.
The DoL has been regulating electric fences since 1988 and has recently started with the registration of electric fence system installers in terms of regulation 14 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations, promulgated under section 43 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Today, Malatse says the DoL supports SAEFIA in its endeavour to become a professional body, however he adds that it is not only the DoL’s support that is required. “It is the mandate of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to recognise professional bodies. SAQA is a government entity and was also present at the first exploratory meeting that was held in July. The reason for the DoL’s support is because of the registration of electric fence system installers by the Department.”
As a professional body, the association will be able to certify people according to set specifications that are recognised by government and discipline those members who do not live up to the standards the association sets. This is something many in the security industry are trying to achieve, with SAEFIA taking the lead as it did in setting standards for electric fence installations (see www.securitysa.com/7963a).
There are those who question why the DoL is involved instead of PSIRA? Malatse says there “is nothing stopping PSIRA working with the DoL.”
“They are two different regulators, like two sides of the coin,” adds Cawood. “We chose to work with DoL instead of PSIRA because the Department has created a path for us to become a professional body. PSIRA on the other hand does monitored registrations, and not all installed electric fences are monitored, but the DoL will help us monitor those.”
The DoL’s role is with the electric fence system installers and not with the private security industry per se. However, it is already engaging with the industry. This will ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and improve the safety of electric fence systems in South Africa. The electric fence system installers will be competent and will deliver a professional service.
“Standards are crucial in this sector. Due to the new education dispensation, we as a body are going to also work with the Quality Council for Trade and Occupation, and the DoL is going to help in the process of ongoing ethics, safety and the quality of workmanship of all registered installers,” says Cawood.
This industry has been under fire in the past for poor workmanship and poor quality, so industry leaders decided to do something about it themselves, taking the lead in the industry and bypassing the politics around PSIRA by working with the DoL.
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