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Thirty-five car guards who were arrested on Thursday along Durban’s beachfront for working without permits have been released from the court holding cells – without appearing before a magistrate.
While the guards appeared relieved, though confused, that they were freed at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Friday, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), which conducted the operation with the SAPS and metro police, said it was surprised because the matter was serious.
“All we know is that the matter was supposed to be placed on the court’s roll,” said PSIRA spokeswoman Talent Zwane, adding that she had no idea how the guards were released without appearing before a magistrate.
“I’m surprised that they were released because two of our inspectors discussed the seriousness of the charges with the prosecutor.”
Zwane said the inspectors had explained to the prosecutor that the act regulating security companies also incorporated car guards.
“It was communicated to the control prosecutor that the charges were not to be dropped as they were serious. Cars that are stolen using these remote [control] mechanisms are stolen in the presence of car guards, and sometimes it is the car guards who steal these cars,” she said.
“We will be taking up this matter with the prosecutor’s superiors.”
Outside the court on Friday, the released car guards, who did not want to be named or photographed as they feared victimisation, told the Daily News they had not been told whether the charges against them still stood or had been dropped.
“We were held behind bars for 25 hours and no one has bothered to explain to us what is going on,” said one.
He said that at the time of their arrest they were told they were not registered, but no one had explained to them how to go about getting registered with PSIRA.
“It was the first time we ever heard about having to be registered,” said another guard. “We got the bibs that we wear from the police station and we were under the impression that we were registered with the community policing forum.”
Their worried relatives, who did not want to be named, had waited almost half the day at the court on Friday to find out which courtroom the guards would appear in.
It was not until after midday that a court orderly told a brother of one of the guards that they would not appear in court, but would be released.
The matter was not enrolled due to outstanding police investigation, said NPA spokeswoman Monica Nyuswa. - Daily News