DURBAN - THE Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) warned security companies that it would impose a fine of R1 million, a five-year suspension of the company’s operating certificate and its de-registration should the court find that security companies were involved in the July unrest in Phoenix.
KwaZulu-Natal police are investigating allegations that security companies based in Phoenix released firearms to their security guards to protect property and malls from being looted during the civil unrest. The unrest was allegedly linked to a campaign to force the government to release former president Jacob Zuma.
PSiRA spokesperson Jan Sambo said they were investigating 15 security companies and 10 security guards for breach of the PSiRA code of conduct. Sambo said the number may still increase while police investigations continued. He said police have confiscated 59 guns belonging to security companies which are undergoing ballistic tests.
Further, he said that while he could not divulge more details, it is alleged that companies and guards played a role in the Phoenix killings which may have constituted the violation of PSiRA’s code of conduct.
“The investigation is at an advanced stage. We are in the process of issuing suspension letters to security guards pending the completion of the investigation. Once we are done with the investigations and we have served companies and guards with charges we will inform the media because there is huge public interest in the issue,” said Sambo.
He added that if found guilty, the sanctions will be implemented against the respective companies. He said the body was working closely with the special police task team, but the only difference was that police are investigating criminal offences while PSiRA was looking into the breach of its code of conduct.
“It is alleged that companies allowed security guards to take firearms home which is a serious breach. Guns must be kept on the premises of the license holder.”
Phoenix was in the spotlight for the number of murder cases opened following the unrest. Police said they have arrested 56 people in relation to the murders in Phoenix. Damage to businesses and property was calculated at R15 billion in the province. The July unrest resulted in extensive damage to 161 malls, 11 warehouses, eight factories and 161 liquor outlets or distributors. Over 200 shopping centres were looted and damaged, while 100 malls suffered fire damage.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said a Special Investigation Team, comprising detectives from the national and provincial office, was deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to look into the 36 deaths.
“This team has hit the ground running. Fifty six people were arrested for their alleged role in the racially motivated murders. These arrests have been widely welcomed by the communities of Zwelisha, Bhambhayi and Amaoti where most of the victims live,” he said.
Cele said 359 people died during the civil unrest that gripped Gauteng and KZN. He said the team is also investigating the role of police in the violence and looking closely into the role played by security companies operating in the area.