Ex-cop joins many off to war zones

2015-03-14 00:00

A FORMER Durban police officer and one-time taxi industry security guard has found solace in countering piracy on the high-seas.

Paul Bristow is part of a growing trend of ex-military and police officers from South Africa seeking work in the private security sector in hotspots around the world, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Earlier this week Beeld reported that a multinational team of over 100 private military experts were on their way to Nigeria to help in the fight against Boko Haram. Former soldiers of the SA Defence Force (the predecessor of the SA National Defence Force) formed the core.

But he said the highly skilled security officers are governed by “various protocols” and that hiring firms feel little for defending your credibility “if you make a mistake”.

“You must know what you are doing. If you make a mistake and it is illegal it is your fault. Your company can abandon you in whichever country you are in,” said the 43-year-old.

But working in the high risk field of protection with high ­velocity firearms is an attractive proposition with salaries in the region of $9 000 (R112 000) per month.

The security companies are always looking for ex-military or ex-police.

This is a starting point towards getting more high-risk jobs where the contracts are longer.

“A lot of my friends went to Iraq. A lot of them came back. Some of them didn’t and some came back mentally and physically damaged.”

Now on his second ship, he said experience counts, as one is isolated and at best 24 hours away from any help.

“On the ocean we can only use lethal force if potential pirates are within 500 metres with a rocket propelled grenade [RPG] or within 300 metres with firearms. If they board the boat you are dead. Our training is to make sure that never happens and protect the crew and cargo,” said Bristow.

Durban born and bred, Bristow was in the SAPS Riot Unit and then the Reaction Unit, after which he spent 10 years in bodyguarding, nine of which were in providing security to the taxi industry in KZN.

“There was a lot of murder and mayhem. I did my last contract in Umlazi. It was nine years in a war zone and it was lawless. It was my little Iraq. Why go overseas when you’ve got it local?” quipped Bristow.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.