New rules for private security companies in South Africa

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Police Minister Bheki Cele has released draft regulations regarding the use of “remotely piloted aircraft systems” – more colloquially known as drones – in South Africa.

While private security groups in South Africa have been using drones for several years for tasks such as property surveillance and anti-poaching activities, drone licenses have been granted on a case-by-case basis, and until now , there were no rules for the use of drones by the private sector. sector as a whole.

The draft regulations will make it easier for private security companies in South Africa to use drones in their operations – however, the proposed rules also make it clear that the use of remotely piloted aircraft will be heavily monitored and controlled to ensure that their use is not abusive or illegal.

Specific issues covered by the proposed regulations include:

  • The drone application process, including information from security companies and who will be flying the aircraft;
  • Ensure that the people who fly the drones have the appropriate licenses and qualifications;
  • Regular assessments and a register of those authorized to fly drones in these companies;
  • Determine the conditions under which private security companies can operate drones and advertise their services.

Drones in your domain and complex

Private security companies in South Africa have already been using drones for anti-crime initiatives for several years, particularly in high-end resorts and areas where it can be difficult to track criminals in the field.

Charnel Hattingh, head of marketing and communications at Fidelity Services Group, said that even in a secure complex, there is always a risk of burglaries and thefts inside and outside the complex and that is why many many estates now combine guarding options and electrified barriers. with more high-tech solutions such as drones.

“We believe that drones and the deployment of a mobile drone team not only act as a very effective visible deterrent to criminals, but also help track down and immediately locate criminal elements once an outer perimeter on a domain has been violated, or in any case. scenario where the suspects are at large in a security domain.

She said the deployment of drones is perfectly suited to security domains and will increase proactive crime prevention and the ability to plan crime prevention operations. It will also facilitate faster response to live criminal incidents and scenes.

“These high-tech innovations undoubtedly represent the future face of security, but as previously highlighted, they work best when paired with an integrated security offering.”

Police drones

In June, Célé confirmed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is in the process of procuring new drones for use in crime-fighting and surveillance operations, especially in rural areas.

Cele said a total of 166 drones will be procured in three phases, with the technology to be introduced across all of its operations. “The model currently proposed for the deployment of drones in phases one, two and three will include 43 localities,” the minister said.

Cele said drones are specifically purchased for use in:

  • provincial operational command centres;
  • district operational command centres;
  • Safer cities projects;
  • Satellite drone units serving various police stations;
  • The use of drones in rural security plans.

Although SAPS has already conducted a number of pilot programs in areas such as Johannesburg, this is the first time that drones will be used en masse across the country as part of the national policing strategy.


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