The cost of key points

2014-10-21 00:00

A TOTAL of 148 policemen are apparently deployed full time to guard one secretive “national key point” complex in Durban harbour.

Meanwhile, the number of key sites the public is not allowed to know about is growing so fast that local security companies are boosting courses on the specialist training and equipment needed.

Although an apartheid-era law makes it illegal to publish details of key point security, the Right2Know Campaign said the list not only includes sensitive installations like the Pelindaba nuclear facility, but also public places like the State Theatre, the Square Kilometre Array Telescope, and dozens of private companies.

Yesterday, The Witness revealed that the key points network had secretly been increased from 182 to 199 in the past year — a nine percent leap — despite a parliamentary review of the controversial policy.

Murray Hunter, co-ordinator for the campaign, said he was “concerned” by recent information, which suggested that “more than 50% of our key points are privately owned”. These include the Engen refinery south of Durban and President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

Even less is known about the identity or cost of the country’s 248 “strategic installations”.

In addition to the millions property owners must spend on security upgrades to satisfy the minister of Police, the policy also involves the large cost of the 199 audits per year by a dedicated SAPS unit, called the Security Advisory Service, and the deployment of thousands of police to guard against sabotage and intrusion.

A manager at Enpower, a leading security training company in Durban, said demand for NKP training had increased “significantly” in the past two years.

He said a number of NKP officers protected eThekwini municipal substations, and key sites like Dube TradePort.

Yesterday, local transparency activist Desmond D’Sa said that the trade port or strategic energy companies, like Pfisterer in Pietermaritzburg, could be added to the list by the minister of Police “and we’d never know”.

The National Key Points Act appears to ban all information about security operations at designated sites, including photographs that could reveal security measures.

But there is such confusion surrounding the law that at least one former senior SAPS officer, Colonel Zipho Damisa, openly describes his key points protection strategy on a SkillPages careers site page attributed to him.

Damisa — who recently left the SAPS for Transnet — writes that he was “in charge of 148 police officers deployed for 24hr protection of the National Key Point Cutler Complex, which consisted of 18 National Key points [including] petrochemical tanks, oil refinery, rail operation pipelines. [Also] loading zones for road carriers and the coal terminal.

“Preventing sabotage, theft and responsible for activation of the emergency plans. Liasing with NIA, private security companies on site and other government agencies”.

Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA spokesperson on police, said special security measures for sensitive installations like Durban’s harbour terminals were warranted — but that “secrecy and lack of accountability is the problem”.

Kohler Barnard said there was “no evidence” of any progress on Zuma’s promise for a review of the key points policy.


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