PRIVATE security companies contracted to provide cash-in-transit services are ill-equipped to the extent that some of them use toy guns while transporting clients’ money, police have revealed.
Well-armed security companies, on the other hand, have semi-automatic guns which cannot be used during public shootouts as they can leave a lot of casualties.
Following a series of armed robberies in the city, officials said it is surprising that there is no single security company which has had to exchange fire with robbers.
The security companies are said to be living in the past, employing security guards who are too old and unfit to respond to modern security concerns.
This came out during a meeting between the police, security companies and the business sector on Monday. The meeting was held in the wake of rising cases of armed robberies that have rocked the city.
Some representatives of security companies said if the security guards are not properly remunerated, robberies will continue to be a problem.
Issues to do with shortcutting by largely small security companies who compromise on quality just to get contracts also topped the discussions.
Officer commanding Bulawayo Province Commissioner Patton Mbangwa said security companies are sleeping on the job and providing shoddy service to clients.
“There is a security company which actually gave its guards a toy gun (when) transporting cash, a toy pistol and it’s your money that is being guarded. We are saying security people should shoot at criminals. If you have guns, pistols, you should shoot at those people, shoot the cars, their tyres, you should disable those criminals,” said Comm Mbangwa.
He said the security companies are not security conscious and need to change their behaviour.
“We want to have a paradigm shift in terms of the way our security teams operate. They should operate in such a way that we safeguard what we are given. Let’s not just be a security company by name but let us be serious security companies. You might be aware that one of our colleagues, Romicon Security, who are the ones who were robbed the other day, were ferrying people’s money in a kombi,” he said.
“Obviously, that alone shows that that security company is not serious. These are things that we want to tackle. We are saying we should have armoured vehicles because we are carrying money and people know that. We should harden the target; criminals should not just take that money by merely approaching your vehicle. That thing (kombi) you could not even make a good escape.”
Comm Mbangwa said cases of security guards sleeping on the job are so rampant in the city and some of them do not seem to know their duties.
“Some of your security personnel have reduced themselves to washing people’s hands at entry points, sanitising hands, as opposed to focusing on security matters. They are supposed to be alert and surveilling what is happening. Be seen and be known for what you are employed for, if you are a security person at a shop be monitoring for suspicious people, suspicious groups. Ask yourself why certain people are in the shop and what is the person doing,” said Comm Mbangwa.
He said the incompetence of security companies could create a negative perception among investors that Bulawayo is not investment-friendly.
Comm Mbangwa said police investigations have also led to the conclusion that most heists are a result of inside information.
He cited four raids that were done in the city including Mukuru Zapalala, saying almost each of the raids and burglary cases point to the fact that robbers and burglars had internal information.
“People knew that there was money coming from Victoria Falls to Access Finance Bureau de-Change, the moment the money arrived at Access Finance they were raided. Who was telling them that the money had arrived? That is why we are saying, are our people properly trained in security issues and matters? My wish is for us to put our houses in order. There might be shortfalls and difficulties but let’s have the police coming in as a support measure. If you know that you are expecting a lot of money, why don’t you contact the police? And we are going to deploy people who are going to shoot at criminals,” he said.
Comm Mbangwa said even the business sector does not seem to be security conscious, citing the robbery at Choppies Supermarket in Parklands as an example of laxity even by internal security.
“The whole thing is, are we security conscious as the business sector? We had a certain gentleman who was in that shop for a very long time, but the people in the shop didn’t care about that. He was moving in the shop from 8AM up until the money came (about three hours later) and when the money came, he produced a pistol. Your closed-circuit television (CCTV) is there but no one is there monitoring who is who,” said Comm Mbangwa.
Business Against Crime Forum of Zimbabwe Bulawayo provincial secretary-general Mr Reggie Sibanda said the business sector has to seriously vet their employees as some of them could be working with criminals.
“In as much as we want to see results, as business, let us look at our environment, let’s make sure that before we could look for internal help we are covered. Some of the robberies that are taking place leave a lot to be desired,” said Mr Sibanda.
Following Monday’s meeting, it was resolved that another meeting be held next week.
While Monday’s meeting was mainly attended by companies’ junior officers, it was resolved that the next meeting be attended by senior managers from organisations who can decide on steps to be taken by both business and police in improving security in the city.