With security companies playing a big role in helping police curb crime, especially since the July 2021 unrest, questions have been asked if they are allowed to arrest people.
Shaheen Suleiman of Magma Security and Investigations said private security companies can make a citizen’s arrest, but they are not mandated to make an official arrest.
He added they have a good working relationship with the police, which helps combat crime in communities. “We do a citizen’s arrest and then hand over the suspect to the police who then charge the person accordingly. They then open up a case and we make a statement, which is also a link and a chain to the evidence,” said Suleiman.
He added they also conduct investigations when asked by their clients to do so and work closely with the police. “We get mandated by our customers to do an investigation and sign a mandate. We work in conjunction with the police and when we find any evidence or find any information, we would put it together and bring it to the attention of the investigating officer who would then make the arrest.”
The police department recently published draft regulations relating to the training of security service providers in the private security industry. In the draft regulations, it was noted that private security companies play an important role in protecting and safeguarding people and properties.
It further said police minister Bheki Cele deemed it necessary to make regulations relating to the obligatory undergoing of security training by security service providers and that they also receive quality training. A Pietermaritzburg resident, who asked not to be named, said more people trust security companies and that they’d rather call them first when there is a crime before calling the police.
They respond faster and are more helpful. We also see how well they are doing in our communities arresting people who break into our homes. They are also more visible in areas where we see less police visibility, which also helps decrease crime.
Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Sifiso Gwala confirmed that the police had a good working relationship with different security companies and were grateful for their contribution in trying to curb crime in the city.
Speaking about the protocols under which they operate, he said while the security companies are helping them, they do not have the authority to carry out any arrest, but they can hold the suspect and call the police or hand over a suspect to the nearest police station for them to be officially charged.
“If it is a crime scene and the security companies get there first, they will have to secure the crime scene since they have the resources and then call the police … they can become witnesses, but they cannot make any arrests because … they do not have the authority to make any arrests,” said Gwala.