KwaZulu-Natal - Security companies in KwaZulu-Natal are counting their losses after the SAPS terminated lucrative contracts worth millions of rands to guard stations across the province.
Trained officers and reservists will now perform guard duties instead of private security guards at all police premises, including the provincial police headquarters in Bram Fischer Road.
Among the companies affected are Royal Security, owned by Durban businessman Roy Moodley, the Pietermaritzburg-based Khuselani Security and Protea Coin Security.
Moodley told the Daily News his company had been contracted to guard 12 stations in KZN.
“As a result of our contract being terminated, we have had to retrench staff and many were breadwinners.”
Moodley criticised the move and said it was a waste of police resources.
“The core function of police to is prevent crime. Using them to perform guard duties is a waste of manpower.”
Khuselani had been contracted in respect of about eight stations in Phoenix, oThongathi (Tongaat), Chatsworth and the Midlands. The company declined to comment on the termination of its contract.
National police spokeswoman Major-General Nonkululeko Mbatha said this was a national move and stressed service delivery would not be compromised.
“The contracts of private security companies who rendered services to police expired at the end of the financial year. They were extended until the end of June,” Mbatha said.
Security at all police premises would be the responsibility of reservists and officers trained in guard duties, she said.
The reservists would be paid for guard duties.
Mbatha refused to disclose how much they would be paid, citing an employer and employee confidentiality agreement.
“This was not an overnight decision,” she said. “As part of our forward planning, we have decided to take ownership of our premises.”
The DA’s spokeswoman on policing, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said the country’s 65 000 police reservists needed to be out on the streets keeping people safe – not guarding the front doors of police stations.
“The use of reservists – many of whom have specialised skills – to perform gate-guarding duties will probably be the final straw for dedicated men and women, without whom some police stations could simply not operate,” she said.
However, Johan Burger, a criminologist and senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, welcomed the move but cautioned that it needed to be managed with expertise and skill.
“I could never understand why the police were paying so much to pay for the protection of police property when they could very well do it themselves,” he said.
“But it is not the kind of work many police officers would like to do and would be a difficult act to balance.
“It cannot be a permanent job for any policeman or woman.”
Burger said guard duties should not span more than three months, and should be included as part of the police mandatory training, in order to ensure the motivation and incentive of police officers were not killed.
“If this does not happen, this move will be stillborn before it can even begin.”
He said the termination of contracts of private security companies would now limit the risks at stations.
“There will be no issue of staff not being qualified for the job and stations would be at less risk.”
Burger said reservists would have to be trained to ensure they were equipped to handle guard duties.
He said this was a strong message from the national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega.
“She is telling us that the police are taking responsibility for their own protection and are relying less on others to do it for them,” he said.
“It also shows that she is serious about saving money. This is a positive sign.”
Reservists welcomed the move and said they were ready to serve.
A KZN reservist of more than 20 years, who did not want to be named, said: “I do not have a problem with guard duties. When I signed up as a reservist, I pledged to serve wherever I was needed. I am disciplined and will not defy orders.”
Reservists said it was unclear how they would be compensated for the guard duties.
Presently, reservists work 16 hours a month. - Daily News