Last word

September 2002 News

For those readers who have not been updated on the latest legislation pertaining to the security industry, and by implication their role within the industry, a number of important new developments have taken place of late which should be of interest to you.

Some background might be useful. As a result of the introduction of the new Private Security Industry Regulation Act, 2001 (Act No 56 of 2001), which by the way is now law and has been since the Act was promulgated in February 2002, a number of providers of security services, who were not obliged to register as security officers in terms of the previous legislation, have been given notice by the Minister for Safety and Security to register under the new Private Security Industry Regulation Act. These include security services such as:

* Locksmiths.

* Private investigators.

* Security training provider.

* Manufacturers, importers and distributors of monitoring devices as defined in the Interception and Monitoring Prohibition Act, 1992.

* Installers and repairers of security equipment or persons servicing security equipment.

* Labour brokers and others making persons available to render a security service.

* Persons who monitor the signals or transmissions from electronic security equipment.

* Persons who manage or control the rendering of security services.

The Minister for Safety and Security, (the late) Steve Tshwete, determined through a notice published in terms of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, 2001 that every category or class of security service providers (as mentioned above) need to be registered before 1 October 2002 if they intend to render a security service from this date. To ensure timeous processing of an application, applicants were to submit their applications to the Authority before 1 August 2002.

Well, you can imagine the furore this sudden extension of the Act to the greater industry caused. Whilst the guarding, cash-in-transit and armed reaction sectors may well have been consulted in the formulation of the Act, you can bet your bottom dollar that no-one of any influence in the electronic security industry was consulted. Even as a major media player in this space, Hi-Tech Security Solutions was none the wiser about the implications of the new Act until some months after it had become law!

A legitimate and trustworthy security industry

Whilst the intent of the legislation is to ensure a legitimate and trustworthy local private security industry - an objective no-one can legitimately be opposed to - clearly there was some work to be done. To the industry's credit, both ESDA (Electronic Security Distributors' Association) and the FDIA (Fire Detection Installers' Association) got cracking and engaged the powers that be.

Electronic Security Distributors' Association (ESDA) chairman Anthony Rosenbaum, addressed a letter to the minister of Safety and Security on behalf of the members of the Electronic Security Distributors' Association on the 24 July 2002 just weeks before the cut-off date for registration to the Security Industry Regulatory Authority.

In his letter, the ESDA chairman asked for exemption to the current training requirement to Grade B as implemented by the Security Industry Regulatory Authority, as the Grade B standard is applicable only to the guarding industry. (Yes, the regulations as they stand require all SIRA registrations to have some degree of guarding qualification, clearly a ludicrous situation for a distributor, installer or consultant of electronic security technology solutions.) ESDA requested a moratorium of approximately six months in order to set up relevant training courses as already established in terms of the National Qualification Framework by the Standards Generating Body.

The appeal was made on the basis that the Act was unfair in insisting that the electronic security distribution industry comply with regulations tailored to the guarding industry. This is contrary to the Act which states in Chapter 2, Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, under the Objects of the Authority clauses 3i. and 3j, "ensure that the process of registration of security service providers is transparent, fair, objective".

The Act has been amended

The good news is that the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority notified the industry on 26 July 2002 that the Act published in the Government Gazette dated 8 March 2002 has been amended. Those who are required to register with the Private Security Regulatory Authority must submit their applications for registration by 1 December 2002 and no longer by 1 August 2002. The registration date of 1 October 2002 has now been amended to 1 March 2003.

There are still many grey areas in terms of the new legislation, and these affect both suppliers and users of security solutions. Only SIRA registered companies will be able to do business, which is not a bad thing at all. Fly-by-nights will be on the run, and hopefully we will rid the industry of the unscrupulous players which harm us all.

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