15 January 2019

South Africa: As SA Policing Fails, Private Security Steps in - but At a Cost


South Africa's private security industry was thrust into the spotlight in December 2018, when guards from Cape Town's PPA Security company were accused of moving people off Clinton Beach at the request of the area's wealthy homeowners. But the Clifton incident is just the tip of the iceberg. The private security industry dwarfs the South African Police Service in size, with well over twice as many private security officials as police officers. The industry argues that it is providing a vital social service -- but critics say that it is increasingly, and illegally, usurping the powers of police.

When Dominic September is out on patrol, it's him vs the baddies.

"Baddies" is a word that September uses a lot. He is a genial 35-year-old who laughs easily, but when it comes to discussing his job he grows serious.

"It's a passion, catching baddies," he says.

September wears a dark blue uniform, and rattles off stories of recent arrests he has made. It would be easy to confuse him with a cop. In reality, he is one of 498,435 private security officers currently employed in South Africa -- as compared with around 190,000 police officers.

To September, the role of private...

South Africa

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