THE majority of companies providing private security services are not registered with any authority and do not adhere to any code of set standards or the Namibian labour laws which often lead to situations where members of the public are assaulted or in some cases even shot by guards with minimal training.
Hundreds of unregistered companies dot the Namibian private security landscape which means that the industry cannot be regulated by either government or the various associations attempting to set better standards.
No law or regulation exists that compels the owners of any upstart company to register with either the government or an association which means that people in the employ of such companies are often exposed to dangerous criminals and the worst kind of abuse from their managers and the management of businesses they are supposed to be guarding.
The president of the Security Association of Namibia (SAN), Hans Miljo, in a statement condemned the recent incident where a street vendor died after a severe assault from four security guards at business premises in Otjiwarongo.
The countrywide manhunt for two security guards in connection with the death of the 43-year-old Hlalisanani Zhou in Otjiwarongo placed the disciplinary and training standards of Namibia’s security industry under the spotlight.
Five men of whom four were employed by Gridhawk Security in Otjiwarongo appeared in the Otjiwarongo Magistrate’s Court at the beginning of last week on a charge of murder after Zhou died as a result of a vicious physical attack at a supermarket on Wednesday last week.
Gridhawk Security employees Jandré Jansen van Vuuren, Jonathan Myburgh, Roberto Katjinamunene, Kefas Kuutondokwa, and Hendrik Simapureni along with, an employee of the Savemore Etemba Plaza Supermarket, Hendrik Simapureni were remanded in custody until August this year when the will make their next appearance.
Miljo stated that Gridhawk Security like many other smaller companies is not one of its members.
SAN in the statement conveyed its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased person’s family whose life was tragically ended in Otjiwarongo.
“The Security Association of Namibia (SAN) would like to further state that it does not condone such a hideous crime committed by Gridhawk Security who is not a member nor is it affiliated with the association,” Miljo said.
Miljo stated that the SAN firmly believes that most hideous crimes and non-compliances committed by certain security companies in Namibia are those from non-SAN affiliated members, which have been tolerated due to the Namibian Government and ministries reluctance to regulate the Security Industry for the past 22 years as well as failure to enforce the “Extension of Collective Agreement to Security Industry: Labour Act, 2007 gazetted on 15 September 2017”.
“The Security Association of Namibia and its members pride themselves to comply with the Namibian Security Act of 1994 (still to be amended) and the Extension of Collective Agreement to Security Industry: Labour Act, 2007 gazetted on 15 September 2017,” he said.
According to Miljo the association has about 180 members of whom less than half are paid up and adhering to the code of standards and training set down by the association. He said the SAN has worked on setting minimum standards for guards placed at businesses and other installations since the body was founded to ensure that better services are rendered to clients.
He said that some companies apply for registration with the association and then use the receipt of the application to tender for contracts from government and other institutions. Once such a contract is secured the company never completes the process and continues to supply substandard services because of a lack of regulation and oversight.
“It leads to a situation where untrained and inexperienced persons are more often than not given the responsibility to guard valuable assets. Such guards are often the first and last line of defence against criminals. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic security guards with nothing more than a set of strict instructions are put to work to screen people and ensure that the public sanitise their hands before entering business and other premises,” he said.
Miljo indicated that members of the association are required to train guards and certify such training to ensure that service delivery and disciplinary standards are adhered to and also to assist such employees to obtain better-salaried positions.
“The lack of training by these unregistered companies often leads to situations where members of the public are assaulted or shot by an untrained guard. The death of the Zimbabwean street vendor in Otjiwarongo last week is just one of many such incidences,” Miljo said.