Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko speaks at the release of the 2013/2014 annual crime statistics in Pretoria, Friday, 19 September 2014. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Johannesburg - Reforms to laws governing the private security industry limiting foreign ownership to 49 percent do not violate the Constitution, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said on Thursday.

“The Amendment Bill has already been passed by Parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Before they do so, they have to test it against the Constitution,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Private Security Services Conference at Wits University in Johannesburg.

Section 20 of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act states that: “A security business may only be registered as a security service provider if at least 51 percent of the ownership and control is exercised by South African citizens.”

The bill was before President Jacob Zuma to be signed into law.

Nhleko said the amendment was not discriminatory, but rather addressed potential security threats.

“We are aware that this industry increasingly gathers intelligence which sometimes can compromise national security.

“Some of these companies have strong links outside the country and it would really be unrealistic not to guard against these potential dangers,” he said.

Government was ready to defend any legal challenges to the bill.

“(We) will be ready to defend any such challenge, be it at the international level or domestic level because we believe that our premise is correct.”