Chair: Martin Gill

Panellists:
Tony Botes – Ingulule Consulting and Security Association of South Africa
Doraval Govender PhD., SOE, F.I.S – Department of Criminology and Security Science at UNISA and ASIS International South Africa
Johan Du Plooy – Roarr-Advisory (Pty) Ltd. and ASIS International South Africa
Andre Du Venage – Secure Logistics and Transport Asset Protection Association

Award Presenters:
Dave Dodge – Independent Enterprise Security Risk Management, Business Continuity and Resilience Specialist and ASIS International South Africa
Erica Gibbons – SE Shelby Enterprises and ASIS International South Africa


Key points

Tony Botes starts by outlining the range of challenges faced by the sector during the pandemic. As he notes this was not made any easier because it emerged suddenly, caught the world napping, including the security sector. Yet by and large security personnel responded well, that said they could have done better. The context has seen a contraction in security, customers facing their own crisis have cut back. Some rid of all security others have turned to fly by night providers beckoning the rebuke from Tony, ‘shame on these customers’. There have been moves to upgrade training, Tony has been collaborating with CAPSI in India and other countries too and that has been a positive outcome. The regulator has been active although the very high non-compliance rate means there is more to be done. The high attrition rate is in part a reflection of the low status and pay of security work, and the associated low public image. Things have got better even in recent times, benefits and pay have improved for the compliant but more needs to be done. Ultimately the consumer needs to be encouraged not to see security as a grudge purchase.

Doraval Govender commences with comments about the dramatic changes of the past year. The context is rampant violent crime and corruption, a flourishing organised crime network which he describes as a ‘shocking new reality’. He is not sure the old normal will ever return. Key to the change are new technologies which need training to operate effectively, while there is great potential to enhance the role of security officers, the transition will be slow. Security guarding has been badly impacted, officers are concerned about jobs and in many cases with justification. The role needs to be enhanced, there needs to be a focus on both job enrichment and job enlargement; frontline can be multitasked if upskilled. The future will see this take many forms, AI, robots, drones too; convergence will become more prominent.  Changing the mindset of security is key; highlighting the many benefits it generates the route.

Andre Du Venage notes that the pandemic has brought security to the fore, but numbers of personnel have been decreasing as the economic adversity bites buyers. Andre provides an interesting insight into the risks of transporting goods; there has been a significant increase in attacks including hijackings made easier as companies cut back on security. Theft increased too. The remote working has generated a different type of insider threat, people are free from more immediate oversight and yet exposed to more risks including eavesdropping and worse from those who share households; people are also exposed to outsider influence. The key though for security is to adapt, security associations can be key to leading change and certifications will play a part in raising standards and adding credibility. Security needs to be seen as a good job but when corruption abounds it is difficult to see the government as a credible reference point of change even though that will be key; governments need to take responsibility. He calls on the security sector to ‘think smarter and work smarter’.

Johan Du Plooy also notes that with home working companies all of sudden had less control and were exposed to new threats which were not properly assessed or countered; the consequences are still yet to emerge. There are numerous entrepreneurial offenders out there who are responding to new opportunities; and they are good at that. New responses are needed, so then are new skillsets, and there needs to be a major step up in the level and quality of training provided. Frontline work is largely boring, officers need to be multi tasked to make work interesting, this is critical and remains largely unaddressed. While a lead from government is needed, it has typically not liked competition from private security, it is a barrier and it needs to be addressed. In South Africa regulation emerged from private security initiatives, there is a will to change, it needs to be stepped up.

This webinar preceded the presentation of the inaugural OSPAs. It was fitting the panellists alluded to the enormous potential of good of security. In South Africa as elsewhere the sector suffers from an image problem, regulation needs more bite, government needs to take a firmer lead, but so it is true that the sector itself needs to combine to present a better account of itself. Some progress has been made but there is more to be done, and if anything, the pandemic has highlighted just how much more that is.


Winners of the inaugural South Africa OSPAs were announced virtually in collaboration with Securex South Africa.

The full winners announcement is available to view here.

Martin Gill
3rd June 2021