n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Can private security stand up to the challenges of crime and crime prevention in South Africa? A contemporary perspective

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The evolution of private security over centuries generally reveals a meaningful symbiotic relationship with crime prevention. From ancient times, right through the Middle Ages up to the modern era, this entity aspired to protecting life and property. Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, industrialization took its course. Apart from HIV / Aids, unemployment and a desire for better living conditions directly contribute to the depopulation of traditional rural areas, causing people to migrate to cities. Conditions of social deterioration which may serve as breeding ground for crime and moral decay are: drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, prostitution, and the like. The assumption of whether or not private security would be capable to 'stand up' to the challenges of crime and crime prevention, on the one hand depends on factorial indications of the important function of security officers in crime prevention, the importance of security measures and the role played by private security in an industrial society. On the other hand, a literature study reflecting contemporary perceptions of crime and public reactions towards crime prevention initiatives recorded in the printed media play an equal important role in this equation.

In particular, reference is being made of three possible dysfunctional conditions that may exert a negative influence on the capability of private security: industrial strikes, the criminal onslaught and private security training. Although private security is irrevocably entrenched in serving their 'clients' through risk management, security surveys, physical, information or personnel security, it cannot turn itself away from the very 'turf' they serve: the community where crime originates, simply because the public still perceive the police as unreliable and not accountable in their handling of crime (Bezuidenhout 2007:vii) - in spite of recent successes in combating cash-in-transit heists in which more than twenty heavily armed robbers were shot and killed by the police.

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