Guards underpaid as fly-by-night security companies cash in on fear of crime

2013-09-20 00:00

RISING crime and cash-strapped consumers mean there are more people than ever ready to employ “fly-by-night” guarding services that don’t provide adequate or legal benefits for their staff.

Security Association KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sharon Numan says it is impossible to guess the number of security guards in the province, as there are “literally thousands of companies” operating outside the regulatory environment.

“Compliant service providers find it extremely difficult to offer competitive pricing where the playing field is not level,” said Darryn le Grange, managing director of one of the bigger security companies in Durban, Blue Security.

“These companies tend to avoid paying legislated wages, provide training, supply uniforms, pay bonuses and provident fund contributions to bring their costs down so that they can either make greater profits, or to undercut legitimate companies while quoting. In almost all cases it is the security officers themselves who lose out,” said Le Grange.

Numan said it was no surprise that some exploited guards resorted to stealing.

Many guards were being forced to work longer hours than the legal limit of 48 hours per week, and were being paid well below industry norms, she said.

She said security companies and their representative organisations needed to work more closely together to expose non-compliant operators.

Blue Security said people should check the credentials of any company that wanted to provide security services.

Vanessa Pandaram, manager at Amlec security in Pietermaritzburg, said they had seen a growth in crime and a growth in the need for private security. Their peak periods are during the July and December holidays.

“This is when homes are vacant and businesses go on a lockdown.

“We have also noticed that criminals also do their research and familiarise themselves with the technology used by security companies, so we have to stay one step ahead.”

She said technology had changed the way people view security, adding their challenges include lack of police manpower to come out when they find a criminal.

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