The performance of security services in South Africa is governed by the Commencement of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, 2001 (Act No. 56 of 2001), which will be referred to as ‘the Act’ in the remainder of this article. Security services are defined as one or more of the following services or activities in the Act:
(a) protecting or safeguarding a person or property in any manner;
(b) giving advice on the protection or safeguarding of a person or property, on any other type of security service as defined in this section, or on the use of security equipment;
(c) providing a reactive or response service in connection with the safeguarding of a person or property in any manner;
(d) providing a service aimed at ensuring order and safety on the premises used for sporting, recreational, entertainment or similar purposes;
(e) manufacturing, importing, distributing or advertising of monitoring devices contemplated in section 1 of the Interception and Monitoring Prohibition Act, 1992 (Act No. 127 of 1992);
(f) performing the functions of a private investigator;
(g) providing security training or instruction to a security service provider or prospective security service provider;
(h) installing, servicing or repairing security equipment;
(i) monitoring signals or transmissions from electronic security equipment;
(j) performing the functions of a locksmith;
(k) making a person or the services of a person available, whether directly or indirectly, for the rendering of any service referred to in paragraphs (a) to (j) and (l), to another person;
(l) managing, controlling or supervising the rendering of any of the services referred to in paragraphs (a) to (j);
(m) creating the impression, in any manner, that one or more of the services in paragraphs (a) to (l) are rendered;
Having established which activities are considered security services, Section 20(1)(a) of the Act states that:
No person, except a Security Service contemplated in section 199 of the Constitution (Act No. 108 of 1996), may in any manner render a security service for remuneration, reward, a fee or benefit, unless such a person is registered as a security service provider in terms of this Act.
We now know that anyone wanting to provide a security service needs to register as a security service provider. In theory, this would thus also apply to foreigners wanting to do such. The answer to the question in the title of this article can be found in Section 23 of the Act, more specifically in the provisions highlighted in red:
23. (1) Any natural person applying for registration in terms of section 21(1), may be registered as a security service provider if the applicant is a fit and proper person to render a security service, and-
(a) is a citizen of or has permanent resident status in South Africa;
(b) is at least 18 years of age;
(c) has complied with the relevant training requirements prescribed for registration as a security service provider;
(d) was not found guilty of an offence specified in the Schedule within a period of 10 years immediately before the submission of the application to the Authority;
(e) was not found guilty of improper conduct in terms of this Act within a period of five years immediately before the submission of the application to the Authority;
(f) submits a prescribed clearance certificate, together with such other information as the Authority may reasonably require, if the applicant is a former member of any official military, security, police or intelligence force or service in South Africa or elsewhere;
(g) is mentally sound;
(h) is not currently employed in the Public Service in circumstances where such registration may conflict with a legislative provision applicable to the applicant;
(i) has paid the relevant application fee; and
(j) is not a person referred to in subsection (5).
(2) A security business applying for registration as a security service provider in terms of section 21(1), may be so registered only if-
(a) every natural person referred to in section 20(2) complies with the requirements of subsection (1) and is not an unrehabilitated insolvent; and
(b) such security business meets the prescribed requirements in respect of the infrastructure and capacity necessary to render a security service.
(3) The Authority may cause any inspection to be held which it deems necessary to establish whether an applicant meets the requirements contemplated in subsection (2)(b), against payment by the applicant of an amount determined by the Authority for this purpose.
(4) The Authority may refuse the registration of any person who-
(a) at the time of submission or consideration of the application, is under State investigation in respect of an offence specified in the Schedule or who is being criminally prosecuted in respect of such an offence; or
(b) was convicted of an offence specified in the Schedule more than 10 years immediately before the submission of the application for registration to the Authority.
(5) Despite any provision to the contrary, a person in the permanent employ of the Service, the Directorate of Special Operations, the National Intelligence Agency, the South African Secret Service, the South African National Defence Force or the Department of Correctional Services may not be registered as a security service provider whilst so employed.
(6) Despite the provisions of subsections (1) and (2), the Authority may on good cause shown and on grounds which are not in conflict with the purpose of this Act and the objects of the Authority, register any applicant as a security service provider.
Section 23(1)(a) clearly states that for one to register as a security service provider, one needs to be a South African citizen or permanent resident of South Africa. This provision however is somewhat mitigated by Section 23(6), stating that despite the provisions of Section 23(1)(a), the Authority may register the applicant as a security service provider, thus allowing him of her to perform security services in South Africa.
To summarize, the Act leaves room for the possibility of registering a foreigner as a security service provider, thus allowing him or her to legally provide the security services listed in the Act, should the registration be successful. It is, however, clear that the Act was written with the idea of foreigners becoming security service providers being anything but the rule. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the registration of a foreign national as security service provider will require considerable effort and extensive motivation.