By Deogratias Mmana
The private security industry in the country is a free-for-all sector where private security service companies can recruit even criminals and send them to guard lives and property.
There are no standards to regulate the sector and government has been sleeping on the job despite a push from players in the industry to come up with regulations.
Some companies simply employ people who masquerade as guards because they wear uniform but cannot protect lives and property because they are not trained in the job, according to the union of the sector.
Textiles Garment Leather and Security Services Workers Union (TGLSSWU) told Malawi News that there are no standards or guidelines for operations in the private security industry.
TGLSSWU General Secretary Charles Mikundi accused the Ministry of Homeland Security of showing no interest to set standards for the industry.
“Because there is no regulation, security companies are employing even thieves. If one steals from company A, he is employed at company B because there is no regulation. This means some clients have thieves manning their houses and properties as security officers,” Mikundi said.
He added: “Some companies don’t have well trained training officers who can train their officers before they start working. It is like customers are given half trained officers or no trained officers at all to protect their property.”
He said the Ministry of Homeland Security is supposed to set regulations for the industry and that his union has engaged the ministry several times — to no avail.
“They have never given us any answers. They give the companies too much freedom to operate without monitoring. That is why anybody could register a security company without any problem because there are no regulations,” Mikundi said.
He said the union has not given up the fight for the standards although the setback is that the government is slow to act on the issue.
“Companies need to follow all labour laws because this is also another problem facing the security sector. We would have also loved if the Ministry of Homeland Security involved us whenever they decided to come up with these rules and regulations,” Mikundi said.
Malawi News has established that G4S previously made two submissions the government on regulation of the industry but government has taken no action.
One such submission is dated May 21, 2015 which was addressed to the Secretary for Internal Affairs.
The submission outlines guidelines for equipment, minimum training, formation of a board, conditions of service of the board and appointment of a director of the board, registration terms and conditions and issues of licensing among others.
The proposal also suggests that security companies should not have similar uniforms for clear identification of personnel and that the regulations should include list of equipment to be used by the security company.
The letter also proposes not less than 10 days for minimum number of training days. It also proposes that after six months of the training, the Minister for Homeland Security should issue certificates to security officers.
We could not get Minister for Homeland Security Jean Sendeza’s comment on several attempts as her personal assistant said she was busy.
In June this year, Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule admitted that the private security industry is in chaos as most companies are failing to comply with labour laws.
She also admitted that her ministry does not have enough inspectors to monitor the industry.
According to the union there are over 2000 private security companies.