South Africa

Op-Ed: Twenty questions for Adam Habib

By Peter Alexander 19 January 2016

Private security forces should act and be held to the same standards of accountability as the South African Police Services. By Prof PETER ALEXANDER.

Here, then, are the questions for Habib:

  1. Who owns these firms, what is their history, and what profits do they make?
  2. How are their security personnel recruited and trained?
  3. Are they members of a union, which one?
  4. What is the command structure?
  5. What physical force are they permitted to use in the most extreme circumstances? Physical contact, batons, pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets?
  6. In terms of rank, who gives the commands to use such force?
  7. Do the firms film their interventions? With what equipment?
  8. To what extent do the security firms have regard for the Constitution’s provision for a right to protest peacefully and unarmed?
  9. Do the uniformed security personnel wear name tags so that they can be identified?
  10. If there is evidence of improper conduct, because security personnel touched women’s breasts for instance, what is the procedure for taking disciplinary action?
  11. What is the gender profile of the security personnel?
  12. How much are these security personnel paid?
  13. Who advised the university about the appointment of the particular companies employed?
  14. How much do they cost?
  15. What deliverables are expected of them?
  16. What is the time frame specified in contracts?
  17. At an operational level, to whom are they answerable within the university?
  18. Are they permitted to use violence that might cause bodily harm without reference to the university?
  19. Under what circumstances would the Public Order Police intervene?
  20. Do they engage in intelligence gathering or is that left to State Security and SAPS? DM

NB: In addition, I do not regard POPs transparency as adequate; I have strongly and publicly criticised the generals they report to, demonstrating that they misled parliament about the meaning of the IRIS statistics, inflating the extent to which protests are violent, and using this to justify a considerably larger budget. – Peter Alexander

Photo: Some of the thousands of students from Wits University demonstrate during another day of demonstrations against fee increases at their university, Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 October 2015. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK.


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