n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Holding South Africa's private security industry accountable : mechanisms of control and challenges to oversight

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Media focus on the use of private security companies to provide access control for police buildings - as well as the spate of unrest and deaths associated with the private security strikes which took place throughout the country from April to June 2006 due to poor working conditions and low wages - has prompted a renewed interest in the private security industry. Furthermore, during his 2007 State of the Nation Address, President Thabo Mbeki pointed out the inadequacy of the current regulatory system to hold the private security industry accountable. The accountability of the private security industry is particularly pertinent at this stage of South African history, due to the need to consolidate - more than a decade after the advent of democracy - the various mechanisms that were created to sustain a democratic, equitable society. In view of the above, the aim of this paper is to critically assess the current state of oversight over the private security industry in South Africa. A review is provided of the internal, state and civilian oversight mechanisms which have been created to hold the industry accountable, with a critical appraisal of the gaps left by the application of these mechanisms present. The nature of private security accountability and the contemporary challenges to ensuring effective oversight over the industry are discussed against the background of the pluralisation of policing in South Africa.

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