As there is an obvious high occurrence of crime in South Africa and the police force seem to struggle to safeguard their citizens against criminals, a lot of people are outsourcing their safety to privately owned security providers. The private security in South Africa is a viable industry that guards and safeguards businesses and private homes. The private security industry is the biggest security industry in the world, and this is mostly due to the shortage of skills and funding of the local police forces.
Quite often private companies are better equipped to deal with crime than the police as their response times are quicker and their security officers are well trained.
The industry is highly regulated but there is an extensive absence of the requirements for registration, and this can sometimes make the private security industry difficult to regulate and to determine exactly how many people are employed in this regard. A lot of security personnel which have previously been registered have moved into management positions or are not actively employed as security personnel any more, and these numbers are not easily determined. However it is estimated that the security industry is one of the biggest employers in South Africa.
Services which are offered by private security firms will normally cover:
- Body guarding or private guards: Here a service is provided where the physical attendance of a security person is required to safeguard people, vehicles, buildings or other assets. Security personnel undergo extensive training, and only those adequately trained may serve as body guards to people.
- Protection of assets in transit: It is quite often necessary for assets such as money, jewellery or even in some cases, pharmaceutical, alcohol or tobacco products to be transported safely from one location to another, and private guards are used to transport these items to the desired location. They quite often use bullet proof safety guards, and are heavily armed. The security staff who carry out these functions are at high risk as robberies of cash transporters is very common and no mercy is shown the security guards who try to protect the cash.
- Tracking and alarms: Security firms are usually well equipped and can respond quickly to alarm calls and can track vehicles. They also advise on the alarm systems to be installed and the type of security needed at a particular property.