Gangs start security firms to gain access to guns
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CAPE TOWN - Gangs in the Western Cape are opening security companies as a front to get firearms, warns a criminologist.
And, recently, illegal security practitioners were brought to book in a joint operation with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) and the SAPS.
In one week, PSiRA made 46 arrests that lifted the lid on illegal practices in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. For the past three weeks, PSiRA has been hot on the heels of non-compliant businesses and security officers, mainly in the big cities.
Criminologist Guy Lamb said, historically, private security businesses, particularly the more informal and fly-by-night companies, were a key source of firearms that were diverted into the criminal sector.
He told the Weekend Argus that the government, through the Firearms Control Act and PSiRA, had instituted a series of regulations relating to private security businesses to reduce such a risk.
“SAPS are also required to conduct inspections of private security firearm holdings. However, if businesses do not register with PSiRA they do not typically adhere to the important firearms control measures and are also not subject to SAPS inspection,” said Lamb.
In its operations, PSiRA cast its net to what would otherwise be perceived as dimly lit cities and towns such as Mbombela/Nelspruit, Fordsburg, Randfontein, Ga-Rankuwa and Port Elizabeth where 141 arrests were made and eight directors and owners of private security businesses found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Chad Thomas of IRS Forensic Investigations, who has been a security services provider for the past 25 years, said the South African private security industry and associated services are the biggest employer in the private sector. The private security industry employs more people than the SAPS and the SANDF combined.
“PSiRA’s law enforcement is the watcher of the watchers. They have a zero-tolerance approach towards unregistered or non-compliant companies and individuals. It is extremely satisfying to see the hard work being conducted by PSiRA in prosecuting rogue elements within our industry.”
These multi-pronged operations by PSiRA and the SAPS resulted in 174 criminal cases against non-compliant individuals between May 11-14.
Of these, 11 criminal cases were opened in the Western Cape.
“This week our operations focused on unregistered security officers security officers using false identities of South African citizens - identity theft is a serious offence.
“The Code of Conduct Obligation for Employers, clauses 6, 8 and 11 prescribe that employers have an obligation to ensure that the people they recruit as security officers are legitimate. Failure to do so may mean that they are complicit to the crime,” said advocate Linda Mbana, the executive head of law enforcement for PSiRA and former head of the Hawks in the Northern Cape.