The plan to expropriate at least 51 % of ownership of foreign-owned private security companies was re-introduced during deliberations on the Private Security Bill in Parliament yesterday.
The re-introduction of this clause, one day prior to the scheduled vote on the Bill, smacks of guerrilla tactics and leaves scarce time for a proper debate on this proposal.
Additionally, the proposed clauses allow the Minister of Police discretion pertaining to the expropriation figure, thus it could well be higher than 51 %.
Affected foreign-owned security business include, but are not limited to:
• close protection
• response security
• assets in transit
• event security
• manufacturers, importers and distributors of monitoring devices
• private investigators
• security training
• security advisers
Imposing restrictions on the ownership of security companies will discourage investment in this sector and others, jeopardising jobs as well as people’s safety.
The claims by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa that ownership of these security companies poses a threat to national security are not backed up by concrete evidence.
The DA challenged Minister Mthethwa to provide evidence to the Portfolio Committee on Police to support his assertions, made a year ago, that Private Security Companies were a threat.
He has failed to do so, yet the very words from the Bill he initially tabled, are back.
The fact is that people increasingly rely on the private security industry to protect them and their property because the Police Ministry is failing to adequately protect citizens.
Indeed citizens spend R50 billion annually on the industry because the current government fails to keep them safe.
South Africans would have no need of private security companies if they were safe. The citizens of South Africa need this industry, and they need foreign investment to boost job creation.
For expropriation to be back on the table at this late stage tells us this is yet another election ploy, but one which will cost the public millions once it is challenged in the Constitutional Court as it no doubt will be.
Perhaps the Minister needs to be reminded that South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world and that we need more crime-fighting bodies, not fewer.