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Please describe the role and responsibilities of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA).

The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority was established in 2002 in terms of section 2 of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act No. 56 of 2001.

The Regulator was founded with the aim to regulate the private security industry to exercise effective control over the practice of the occupation of security service providers.

Our mandate is to promote and ensure effective regulation of the security industry and to monitor compliance within the security industry. The private security industry consists of security service providers (i.e., private security companies and security officers) and in-house security services – that are government departments, SOE’s and municipalities that employ security officers and close protection officers.

 

As the Director for PSiRA what are your major focus areas?

My focus in the next few years is to achieve the Strategic Plan outcomes for the 2020-2025 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period and amongst others and in the endeavour to fully implement the PSiRA Digital Transformation Strategy, which is geared toward automating the service offerings to our customers, and mitigating the effects of Covid-19 pandemic while improving service delivery.

 

What are the different levels and types of certificates you issue for private security companies and individuals? Is there a requirement for refresher courses?

We issue certificates to security businesses to ensure compliance in terms of the PSiRA Act and regulations. This is the only type of security business certificate that will legitimise a business function within the private security industry. Secondary to the business certificate is the accreditation award certificate for security training providers who have been accredited to offer security training in the industry.

The other certification is that of individual security officers who are certified for their Grades Training on various levels (Grades E to A), predominantly in the guarding sector. We are also looking at the accreditation of other courses in the private security sector, especially certification for different categories which are more into specialisation. Currently, regulation 11(7) of the Code of Conduct for Security Service Providers requires employers to provide staff in their employ at least once a year with refresher courses on legal aspects of regulation. We recently embarked on developing new grades training material to modernise the training and ensure equitable standards. However, we are very confident that the introduction of the newly revised Grades and review of the current specialised courses will call for all security service providers to conform to the new standards and advance proficiencies by deployed Security Officers.

 

What was your journey that led you to joining PSiRA?

My career journey started in the Police Force as an Officer after obtaining a Law Degree, and over the years, a management qualification. From the Police, I worked for the National Prosecuting Authority as a Regional Public Prosecutor and later joined the then Security Officers Board, affectionately known as (SOB), as an inspector, and later PSiRA as a Prosecutor. After a stint at PSiRA, I moved to the private sector in different portfolios. My interest has always been in governance and leadership prior to coming back to PSiRA. When I was with PSiRA years ago, I told the previous CEO that I would one day come back as a CEO and of course, he thought there was something wrong with me. Then in 2010, I came back to PSiRA as the CEO, and this was a dream come true.

 

You have been with PSiRA for more than 10 years. What are some of the major changes you have seen in this decade?

When I joined PSiRA, the Authority was going through challenging times, especially from a finance perspective. We however had an excellent accounting authority led by the late Mr Thula Bopela as a chairperson which trusted and believed in the new Executive team to turnaround the organisation. The first five years of term of office focussed on turning the organisation around to ensure efficient and effective business processes, establishing improvement to the organisational structure by introducing the Business Information Technology (BIT), Research Development as critical tool to inform policy position, Office of the Corporate Secretary to strengthen governance and Forensic Unit to address corruption and develop an ethical corporate culture within PSIRA. Amongst others, we revised our approach to regulation to focus on compliance and enforcement underpinned by strong capacity building and advocacy campaigns. In addition, we developed the PSiRA brand to be associated with efficiency and introduced certificates with unique security features to curb fraud and corruption within the industry.

A decision to extend my term of office has offered an exciting period to lead the organisation and direct the steps to visualise organisational goals. As the Regulator, we have embraced the digital transformation and the disruption that comes with innovation. For example, in 2018, we launched the PSiRA APP, deployed the geo-mapping software and currently we are implementing digital transformation strategy that will result in better service delivery, online certification, online accreditation, online registration, and most importantly, allowing our stakeholders to do what they do best instead of coming to queue for services at our offices.

In 2013/14 financial year, PSiRA changed its certificate to the current certificate with security features designed with the assistance of Government Printing Works. The purpose of securing our certificates was to curb identity theft and improve industry compliance.

 

Another milestone to be noted is the two research topics conducted by the Research and Development unit around 2015/16:

  • Improving the use of firearms and;
  • Enhancing the training standards in the private security industry.

 

Amongst other highlights achieved in the past 10 years are:

  • Strengthening of corporate governance.
  • Professionalisation of the private security industry in South Africa.
  • Financial stability through new revenue streams such as the renewal project.
  • Increased number of operations and inspections which resulted in severe punitive consequences against non-compliance.
  • Improvement in various industry sectors and knowledge areas through research and development.
  • Introspection in industry transformation challenges.
  • Establishment of industry sector advisory committees.
  • Great strides were made to improve Stakeholder Engagements.

 

Is private security a growth industry in South Africa?

The Security industry is growing at a rapid pace and this growth is characterised by new technology and innovation with the use of security gadgets, artificial intelligence, and strides in embracing 4IR that must be regulated adequately. Over the last eight years there has been a 14% increase in the number of registered Security Officers and 33% of the number of registered active security businesses.

 

How closely does the private security industry work with public sector security services?

The private security industry works very closely with public sector security, where joint initiatives are held to combat crime. Due to the high number of security personnel in the industry, the public sector is assisted tremendously during operation and opening of cases as and when security businesses are involved in the crime scene and incidents. In addition, the public sector employs in-house security officers who are also subjected to the regulations by PSiRA.

 

How has Covid impacted on how the Regulatory Authority carries out its responsibilities?

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit us the same way as any other organisation. From an internal business continuity perspective, PSiRA had a business continuity strategy that was immediately activated. Our ICT services had been improved two years earlier to allow collaboration using Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business. From the business side, PSiRA as a regulator is a self-funded organisation and if the security industry experiences an economic downturn, this will affect our ability to render services. However, we were able to carry out several inspections, especially in the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year, together with the assistance of our stakeholders, the South African Police Service (SAPS).

 

What have been some of your major milestones?

  • Turnaround strategy in 2010 which has assisted in saving the organisation and maintained liquidity.
  • Introduce new PSiRA certificate with encrypted security features and expiry date in 2013.
  • Opening of the new offices in the Free State in 2017.
  • PSiRA becomes a member of an international body, IASIR in 2018 and the launch of the PSiRA APP.
  • Achievement of the first clean audit by the Auditor General South Africa in 2019 to date.

 

What have been your major hurdles and how did you overcome them?

 

The Unsustainable Funding Model
The Authority is self-funded mainly through prescribed fees in respect of applications for registration and annual amounts payable to it by members of the industry. Over the years, this funding model became defunct. In addition, fines are imposed on businesses found guilty of improper conduct, and interest from investments. The Authority has engaged the National Treasury regarding the sustainable funding model with a view to introducing the Private Security Industry Levies Act, 2002, which is still underway. We were able to sustain our operations by continuously innovating, implementing robust turnaround strategies from fiscal discipline to heightened industry compliance campaigns to revenue collection.

Deployment of undocumented foreign nationals
We have been trying to address these challenges by intensifying compliance and the renewal project aimed at curbing identity theft and improving industry compliance. These include the non-registration of personnel and businesses, poor training, inadequate vetting, and background checks, issuing firearms to persons who are not competent to use them, and the failure to pursue criminal or disciplinary action against security personnel breaking the law.

Inaccurate declaration by security companies
Some security service providers deliberately choose to evade the statutory requirements by under-declaring their personnel. Through the enforcement approach, we induce punishment for improper conduct by imposing sanctions against non-compliance. Continuous operational efficiencies made it difficult for the industry to sustain inaccurate disclosures of their staff.

Transformation of the private security industry.

In 2016/17 The Authority appointed a panel of experts to probe matters affecting the industry’s transformation holistically and eventually came up with a Transformation concept document after consultation with key industry alliance partners. However, due to financial constraints experienced by the Authority, the discussion document remains to be taken through the next consultative process. The Authority is still hopeful and continues to try and secure funding for the project from other stakeholders.

 

How is the new digital online platform going to change the security industry?

The digital online system currently being developed will ensure effective and efficient customer service and improve regulation of the private security industry. For example, security officers and businesses will no longer need to book to come to our offices to renew their certificates. As a result, they will be able to renew online, thereby saving on travelling costs and time. Over 60 percent of our members are millennials. The new online system is a game changer for this cohort of the industry. Most of the services that are delivered in a face-to-face fashion will be phased out to the digital platform.

 

 

*Check out the latest edition of the Public Sector Leaders publication here.

For enquiries, regarding being profiled or showcased in the next edition of the Public Sector Leaders publication, please contact National Project Manager, Emlyn Dunn:

Telephone: 086 000 9590 |  Mobile: 072 126 3962 |  e-Mail: emlyn.dunn@topco.co.za