It’s education, stupid

October 2015 News & Events

As South Africa’s official education system continues plummeting to the bottom of the global table in terms of what our kids are taught and the quality of the individuals teaching them, it’s even more depressing to realise that education is one of the primary factors in the inability of the economy as a whole to improve and perform as one would like.

This lack of education is even apparent in the security industry where, supposedly, all guards are educated to a certain level. In fact, if you’re the CEO of a security company, you also need to pass the course and have a PSIRA guard rating – because the CEO drives his 4X4 around the suburbs at night responding to alarms ... .

Then, when you talk to companies using these registered and qualified guards, the guards often have no idea what they are supposed to do, and those that know don’t know how to do it properly. And the same applies to the SAPS. And when you think about it, the same applies in the technology world where technicians don’t know enough about networking to set up an IP camera properly. (I am generalising and I’m not trying to tar all guards, technicians and police officers with the same brush, but the problem is widespread enough to be a serious issue.)

I have been to quite a few conferences recently, apart from the ones hosted by Hi-Tech Security Solutions, and the news you hear is depressing.

There are, for example, no standards of minimum qualifications for technicians in South Africa. I can quite happily go and set myself up as an installer. There are associations trying to develop or maintain standards, but they are not supported by legislation – apart from the recent electric fence legislation, which was an excellent move by the Department of Labour and the respective associations.

With the recent crime statistics showing increases in crime in almost every sphere, and most people would maintain that crimes are still under-reported, the question of education looms large.

In a couple of presentations the question of crime scene preservation was mentioned. Both the police and guards (and security managers for that matter) are under-educated in this regard – again, not all of them, but enough. The Oscar case is a high-profile event where the police made sure forensic evidence was tainted. For example, the story goes that after the body was removed from the bathroom, two officers were inspecting the scene – without gloves or protective gear – and one picked up the gun to examine it. The other reprimanded him, at which point the picker upper got a shock and wiped the gun clean and dropped it on the floor again ... . (This story was relayed in a presentation and I’m assuming it is, unfortunately, true.)

Guards in malls and business premises are in the same boat as they generally don’t know what to do at a crime scene. The result is people naïvely go stomping over evidence, making the successful prosecution of the crime even harder than it already is.

Fortunately, there are organisations like the DNA Project ( that are focused on educating police and everyone else about the importance of forensics and how to handle a crime scene etc. They also played an important role in the passing of the DNA Act in 2014. If you’re interested in learning more about crime scene preservation, offers free courses.

Isn’t it time we started taking education in all spheres of South African life seriously?

Andrew Seldon



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