The Private Security Industry in South Africa


The Private Security Industry in South Africa is believed to be the largest in the world, having reached an annual turnover of R50 billion in 2011, from which the largest sector of the security industry – the security guarding segment, has contributed R18 billion. Furthermore, the growth of the security industry was also driven by the SAPS, spending R161.5 million in 2009/2010 on private security services. In South Africa, the number of private security officers has increased by 111.30% since 2001, where 8 828 active Private Security Companies are registered with PSIRA (Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority), a 66.7% increase since 2001.

Moreover, the amount of security officers and guards outnumbers SAPS officers by 2:1. The reason for this growing gap is because citizens do not perceive the police as adequate for their safety needs. Main factors that have led to the growth of the Private Security Industry in South Africa are:


1. Changes in property associations due to the growth of mass private property and the need to protect their property.

2. The identification of new uncertainties in the proclaimed ‘risk society’.

3. Growing trends towards the commodification of security; where individuals purchase their own security (physical security, use of armed response companies and counter surveillance), and businesses acquire security services from security companies, such as security guarding, equipment, surveillance and armed response reaction, as result of the state’s inability to guarantee security.

4. Violent crime: While South Africa’s murder rate has decreased, statistics show that over 15 940 murders took place between 2010 and 2011, which is significantly higher than that in most other parts of the world. House and business robberies are further a major concern for the public. In addition, the role of the media in widely reporting violent crime influences the growth of insecurity and fear of crime.

5. Urbanization, environmental and building demands related with improved or increased social controls.

6. Existence of cooperative networks: A community may be secured not only by the state police, but by private security patrols, metro police and neighbourhood watch organizations working to secure the same area. The growth of the industry has also been an avenue of employment for the unemployed. The private security industry is seen as the largest employer out of the SASSETA subsectors (above Policing, Corrections, Justice, Defence, Intelligence, Legal Service), where aspiring security guards are enrolled in private security training programmes.

According to the Private Security Chamber Chairperson, the ratio is 95%:5% in favour of private institutions, resulting in employers believing that higher success can be achieved through on-the-job training. As security officers are at the core of the security guarding service provided, it is of great importance to provide them with the necessary training in order for them to leverage their capabilities to the utmost of their potential, whilst focusing on excellent service delivery.

To conclude, a broadening of the market has taken place, in which the means to counteract risks or threats to individual or business security continually develops and becomes more specialized. Indirectly, the presence of security equipment, security officers, and/or vehicles have an impact on the institution or business concerned not only in terms of providing safety and preventing crime, but also are a visible reassurance that spaces and persons are being secured by means of security guarding and patrolling duties.

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Nicolaas Maritz


Author: admin

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