Criminals are more readily arming themselves and are prepared to use their weapons, the Institute for Security Studies’ Johan Burger said.
A spike in security guard killings from the beginning of this year is no surprise to security experts, who say they are an obvious target in a country with a high level of crime and where criminals are increasingly becoming armed.
According to the Association of Private Security Owners, 16 guards have been murdered on duty since January. The latest murder was just over a week ago, when a guard was shot dead during the hijacking of a goods truck.
The association said: “Attacks on security guards have become prevalent and are a matter that urgently needs to be looked into by all stakeholders.”
Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger said given the nature of the job, the number of killings was expected. “If you look at private security officials, especially those involved in carrying cash, they are an obvious target for criminals because of the responsibility they have. They are in much the same position as police officers because they are in the frontline against crime. Statistics released by the SA Police Service revealed that we lost 84 police officers to murder last year. Even international research says there are obviously chances they will be shot.”
He added that criminals were more readily arming themselves, and were prepared to use their weapons knowing that security guards and police officers would do the same. “For this reason I would prefer security guards at schools not to be armed,” he said.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi recently announced that schools were being targeted by criminal activity, which had cost the department over R120 million.
“Check the people who are coming to those schools: they are armed with machine guns and the cars they are utilising and the calibre of the weapons they are utilising. There is no way that a person with a whistle and a knobkierie can stop them. The statistics of the security guards that have been shot dead in our schools is shocking,” he said.
But Burger did not agree. “I would prefer that we have a sufficient number of security guards who are unarmed. This will act as a deterrent to criminals and reduce the risk of them attacking with arms.”