The South African Intruder Detection Services Association (SAIDSA) held a summit in Cape Town at the end of June to highlight the need for cooperation between the private and public sector security mechanisms, as well as to highlight how the Western Cape Provincial Government has made enormous strides in combating crime, often against overwhelming odds.
The event was opened by Pierre Gouws from SAIDSA Western Cape who welcomed guests and introduced the first speaker, James Vos. As the Shadow Minister of Tourism for the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Vos basically noted the poor image South Africa has internationally because of the crime situation and highlighted how this hampered tourism, which is an important source of foreign income to the country and creates many jobs. The Western Cape is a significant beneficiary of tourism of various sorts and has seen welcome increases in interest from foreign shores over the past year or two, with more in the pipeline.
Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille was the next speaker. She highlighted the many initiatives the Western Cape has introduced to combat crime and the successes enjoyed by the residents of the province. She noted, however, that these successes were dependent on close cooperation between the provincial police services, SAPS and the private sector. It’s no secret that SAPS is understaffed and under-equipped, making the cooperation with private security concerns more important.
Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety was up next and he spoke about the reality of the crime situation in the country and in the Western Cape in particular. Referring to the private security industry, he noted that the number of active personnel involved in this industry was far higher than the active personnel in the country’s police and military services.
The numbers tell the story of how South Africans are trying to protect themselves and their families from the criminal onslaught, which the authorities are unable to manage. The norm today, when an incident occurs, is that private security is the first responder. While not ideal, the industry has equipped itself well to the task and proven itself a reliable and useful ally in crime prevention. It is also why cooperation between the public and private sectors is critical.
In the words of Minister Plato, “No one agency, entity or institution will win the fight against crime if we do not all band together to root out the criminal elements within our communities.”
As part of this process, the Western Cape has taken it upon itself to assist in making the criminal justice system work, understanding that oversight is necessary to ensure the wheels of justice turn smoothly. The DA’s efforts to support and improve the performance of the criminal justice system in the province have already borne fruit, although there is still much to do.
Alderman JP Smith took to the podium next with an overview of some of the innovative safety and security processes the DA has championed in the Western Cape to great success. One of the focus areas of Smith’s presentation was the criticality of fostering communications between all the role players, be they private or public.
The most impressive achievement Cape Town has achieved is its EPIC (Emergency Policing and Incident Command) programme. The first stage of this ‘Public Safety Ecosystem’ project is now in operation and it has done what many would consider common sense, but which is in fact a first for South Africa. It has integrated the various services’ communications capabilities into a central command structure.
The project links the call centre, dispatchers, officers and other role players, providing better situational awareness in the control centre as well as for people in the field. The management system assists with managing cases and also improving the efficiency of the city’s workforce to improve the overall effectiveness of its resources.
Alderman Smith was followed by the national chair of SAIDSA, Johan Booysen who delivered the last presentation of the day.
The quality of the presentations and the information conveyed by the speakers is too vast to be included in a short article such as this one. Needless to say, an impromptu poll of the audience made it clear that everyone appreciated the time invested by the speakers and the positive overtures from the Western Cape government to the private security industry, which responded enthusiastically to the idea of closer cooperation in the fight against crime at all levels.
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