Security guards are regulated by the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) who have a code of conduct which security companies have to ascribe to. Provisions are made for these in the Private Security Regulation Act. The authority is mandated to the registration of service providers, ensuring compliance and advise the state on all matters of private security, among other things.
The act states that a “security service provider may not infringe any right of a person as provided for in the Bill of Rights”.
PSiRA’s code of conduct also says security guards may not break open or enter premises, conduct a search, seize property, arrest, detain, restrain, interrogate, delay, threaten, injure or cause the death of any person, demand information or documentation from any person, or infringe the privacy of the communications of any person, unless such conduct is reasonably necessary for the circumstances and is permitted in terms of law.
Who are they there to protect?
A security guard’s primary focus is to protect their client’s interests and property and to act against threats. The security company and client agreement on the scope of their duties and the security guards takes instructions from the client via the security company on this basis.
They are, however, obligated to help the police, and not obstruct them, in their investigations.
When can security guards arrest a person?
Being private citizens, security guards may conduct a citizen’s arrest. This can be done by any private citizen who may only do so if they reasonably suspect a criminal offense to have been committed; they reasonably believe the person to be trying to escape, after committing a criminal offense; and – the person is involved in an “affray” (a fight, commotion or disturbance).
Note that this can be done by any person according to the Criminal Procedure Act (1977). There are no special laws which allow the security guards specifically to do so.
What can you do if a security guard has infringed on your rights?
If you believe a security guard or security company has infringed on your rights, you can write an affidavit about the incident with as much detail as possible at the nearest police station. This will need to be submitted to PSiRA.
The affidavit should include:
Your full name, work address and residential address;
The security officer’s full name, work address and residential address;
The name, work address and residential address of a director of the security company, or such person that could act as a representative of the security company; and
Details of the incident, including date and place, providing PSiRA with enough information to decide that the contents if proven true, would constitute improper conduct by the security officer.
A PSIRA prosecutor will take control of the matter, but you may be requested by the prosecutor to provide additional information or called as a witness to testify at the inquiry