The DA has welcomed the unanimous decision by the police portfolio committee to send the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill back to the police’s law advisers and the police secretariat.
The committee agreed unanimously on Wednesday that the bill be sent back to be redrafted in line with the Constitution, the country’s laws, and with international bilateral investment treaties, Democratic Alliance spokeswoman Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.
"The private security industry is currently regulated, and indeed needs to be regulated, but we are opposed to the proposals which go against the Constitution and international treaties,” she said.
These included the forced sale of 51 percent of foreign-owned private security companies to South Africans, and the prevention of any foreigner living legally and permanently in South Africa from working in the private security industry.
Claims that the ownership of these private security companies by foreign companies posed a threat to national security were made on a "political whim”.
When asked for proof of this "threat” neither the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, nor the secretary of police, could provide proof, or state that any research had been done to support this claim.
"The truth is that people in South Africa increasingly rely on the private security industry to protect them and their property because the police ministry is failing to protect citizens.” No-one actually wanted to have to pay twice to be safe in their own home.
Firstly, residents were taxed to pay the SA Police Service (SAPS) R62.4 billion a year, and because of their failures, residents then paid an additional R50bn to the private security industry.
"There would be no market for the private security industry if the SAPS just did the job they were paid to do,” Kohler-Barnard said.
As proposed, the bill would potentially have led to massive job losses, decreased investment in South Africa, and would have created a security risk for all South Africans.
The upshot of the proposed amendments in the bill would be that fewer trained law enforcement and security personnel would be available.
This would leave all citizens, and especially the poor who relied on the SAPS as their sole source of protection, more vulnerable to crime, as the SAPS would have to spread its resources more thinly.
No research had been done on possible disinvestment when faced with the forced sale of 51 percent of foreign-owned companies.
No research had been done on the deterrence of foreign investment, or of the means to determine and limit foreign ownership of shares sold freely on the stock exchange, or the possibility of claims under the South Africa-United Kingdom bilateral investment treaty.
"The DA finds it astounding that the minister even presented this bill to the committee. It will now be sent back to the SAPS law advisers and the police secretariat to be redrafted.
"The DA sincerely hopes that they will not return the bill to the committee with the same ridiculous proposals which smack of xenophobia,” Kohler-Barnard said. - Sapa