Security guards want license to shoot

Chris Mahove, EDITOR

Security guards in the country are pushing for legislation that will license them to shoot criminals in the face of the spike in armed robberies in the country.

Zimbabwe Security Guards Union (ZISEGU) President, Sipikile Muchini, told Review & Mail in an interview that security guards’ lives were at risk during armed robberies on premises that they guard as the current law doesn’t allow them to shoot.

“The current legislation only licenses the employer and not the guards. The guards are only weapon handlers who have no license to shoot. We would appreciate if we can have legislation that also empowers the guards to shoot robbers when they are under attack, “he said.

Muchini also called for the establishment of a single security guards training institution from where security companies should recruit guards.

“Security companies are not properly training their guards and most of the time when faced with dangerous robbers, they are found wanting,” he said.

Many of the armed robberies reported recently have involved former and serving soldiers and police officers who would have received training.

There has been a marked increase in cases of armed robberies in the country, with 19 000 having been reported between 2020 and 2021, which translated to about 25 cases daily.

At a recent breakfast meeting to discuss the issue last week. ZISEGU General Secretary, Phillimon Nhema presented their own mitigation strategies which they said would assist in preserving the lives of security guards, who were always on the frontline when such cases occurred.

The breakfast meeting on armed robberies was attended by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazembe Kazembe, whose ministry is in charge of the police, President of the Security Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ)  Tapiwa Karoro, the CEO of the Security Association of South Africa,  Tony Botes and  former SAZ President  Divine Ndhlukula among others.

Nhema, told the meeting that security guards, because of the nature of their work, bore the brunt of armed robberies and called for urgent measures to protect them.

“Being the representatives of the Security Guards, we are very concerned and worried since our members (Security Guards) are mostly affected. Security Guards, being the backbone of the economy are found at every corner of the country which exposes them and makes them targets of robbers. Mostly, robberies are being experienced depending on the valuables that are being kept at that place,” he said.

Nhema said legislation on the licensing of gun owners was archaic and ineffective.

“Going forward, outdated pieces of legislation also contribute to the issue of armed robberies as will be indicated below when we elaborate point by point. The most effective mechanism that can be employed to minimize the number of armed robberies is through preventative measure. This can only be achieved through legislating that only licenced gun owners can lawfully use and fire the guns and facilitate licencing of guns for guards,” he said.   

He said the issue of armed robberies had not been prioritised for far too long and it was high time that the issue be addressed and be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“Being perpetual victims of trauma, all sorts of harassment one can imagine (sexual, physical, mental) has become inalienable lifestyle of today`s Security Guard in Zimbabwe.

“Fueled by rampant armed robbery cases which have engulfed the country, genuine measures are longest overdue to be put in place. The potency of measures implemented in the security sector for guards to effectively perform their assigned duties of protecting both themselves and premises can sincerely be questioned,” he said.

Nhema said there was need for the evaluation of the effectiveness of the current systems put in place to arrest the vice.

“The system has now and again proved to be ineffective but the employers are too focused on making the next dollar such that they are blind to these. Every day and everywhere, murder, gang rape and all evils the belly of earth can conceive, form the narrative of security guards. It is only through platforms like these that present hope for change and the opportunity to address the predicaments faced in the Security industry and great reliance and trust is put hereto,” he said.

He said the Private Investigators and Security Guards Control Act [Chapter 27:10] as amended from time to time, was a draconian and colonial piece of legislation which marginalized and excluded the security guard in its definition.

“It is crucial to amend the archaic piece of statute like yesterday. The painful reality is that the organisation which is wrongly and erroneously confirmed as the security guard in the definition, does never taste being gang raped, tortured or even labelled names when a robbery occurs. In actual fact, the uninsured, weak and overexploited individual is the inescapable recipient of the harsh realities of an armed robbery. Unless this is remedied, the actual guard will always be disadvantaged,” he said.

Poor remuneration and lack of safety nets for guards have also been blamed for the spike in armed robberies as guards would connive with robbers after being promised a cut from the proceeds of the robberies.

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