Following the company’s research in 2017 among customers to ascertain perceptions and anxiety around security and safety in SA, Phangela SWAT has now made a massive pledge to help fight crime. Its R240-million expansion over the next three years will see the company establish a network of branches around the country; develop an urban army of highly trained and supported security warriors; and use technology in order to provide the tools for protection and armed response as well as vital information that delivers some peace of mind to the victims of crime.
How the expansion will roll out:
Phangela currently employs 4 500 people and plans to triple this number over the next five years. Believing that the SA security guard of the future should no longer be a minimal wage earner, Phangela is adopting a serious corporate social investment stance and will spend at least 10% of the R240-million in training, upskilling, and leadership development. The company’s rigorous task force training involves gearing its armed response officers to become the ‘urban soldiers’ of the future, while remaining within the law of what is permissible for the security industry. This investment is critical to ensure that Phangela Group’s security offering evolves and can tackle the country’s increasing security challenges. Currently, to give an example of the level of sophistication of this training, one current cost that the company incurs is for ammunition used in training and this alone equates to over R60 000.00 per month. Phangela currently employs a permanent counsellor who is available at the company’s office every day to interview and discuss general wellbeing and mental health of employees across all disciplines, especially the armed responders who are exposed to more stress.
From 01 June this year, the company is launching a new programme with Biz Premier to coach around 2000 staff over three years in order to harness and develop leadership skills. This investment alone represents R6-million and aims to breed a group of people who will not only lead their teams but also understand the criminals they are dealing with in order to be one step ahead of them.
The private security industry currently outnumbers the total number of SAPS, navy and defence force personnel in the country added together and the private security industry is set to become a force that more and more consumers will depend upon as SAPS is increasingly stretched to deliver a service within their own budget constraints.
Phangela will be spending R250 000 per month in training programmes for 60 people every month. “This is where our core focus of our expansion must be,” adds Jacobs, “because we need highly motivated professionals out there – and not people who are ill-equipped wearing an arb uniform having not been trained sufficiently to deal with potential and actual conflict. You can’t fight violent crime with people who are not equipped to deal with it.”
Charl Jacobs adds that now, more than ever, as social media and the news are used by politicians and others to spread division and fear through calls to action, the need for increased security is imperative in order to ensure the safety of ordinary South Africans.
Phangela S.W.A.T has developed a new app – RSPD (which stands for Response | Secure | Prevent | Detect) – which goes live today and is a world-first for the armed response industry. It is the first personal safety management portal and app in South Africa and the world. A thoroughly secure app, it is the only one that gives registered ‘actual’ clients’ access, while preventing criminal access from exploiting the app for their own ends.
The main aim of the new app is to provide users with vital information around vehicles on their way to an ‘alarm’ situation and also for users to be able to call for help wherever they are (the app will pick up the whereabouts of the user via GPS). It adds a unique layer of added services over and above the current services provided by Phangela, at no extra cost. Features of the app include:
- Information to users’ mobile phones about an incident at their premises
- It allows users to see the name of the armed response officer dispatched and to track their ETA in real time (like Uber) in Google Maps
- A home emergency button can be used when they cannot reach or access their panic buttons at home in case of an emergency
- A remote emergency button that will geo-locate a client when they are not at home to supply emergency services with the exact co-ordinates of the client
- A community chat/watch group to share any security related information and images
The app can be shared with family or friends so that tracking of armed response help may be seen as it progresses towards the scene of duress.
Typically, Phangela SWAT response time is well below the industry average and the company believes that peace of mind comes when a victim is fully aware that help is on its way and knows exactly how long that help will take to arrive.
A new control room at Phangela Group Bellville headquarters has been established in order to not only respond 24/7 to the app requirements but also to gear up for the company’s expansion across the country. This control room will remain the national nerve centre and all national responses will run through the servers with multiple back and redundancies in case of any eventuality.
Cybercrime incidents in South Africa are rising fast with the country in the top rankings in the world for reported cases. Phangela will, by the end of 2018, launch a new cybercrime security unit to help tackle this enormous threat to SA business and personal security. The company’s investment in this sector over the next three years will beR10m.
- Places – new network of Phangela SWAT offices nationally
Phangela Group has opened seven new offices. Headquartered in Cape Town, the group now also has offices in Johannesburg, Durban, Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, Geroge, Kathu and Vredenberg. SWAT teams around the country will be trained and backed by the head office control room.
Rationale for expansion
Phangela Group conducted research in 2016 among its customers (a sample of 2000) in order to gain insights into perceptions and attitudes towards security. The findings revealed that 81% of the sample fear armed robbery and violence, or the threat of violence.
The private security industry in SA has quadrupled in number over the last six years, growing from 3500 to 10500 companies. Over half a million people are employed in the industry as a result of this growth. Total spend of households (personal capacity) equates to R80-billion per annum.
In September 2016 when crime figures (April 2015-2016) were released by the South African Police Service (SAPS), the reduced number of reported crimes (-2%) were overshadowed by the increased number of crimes involving violence, namely: murder (up by 3.2%); home robberies (+ 2.7%); and carjacking (+14.3%).
However, acquiring accurate statistics about crime levels in South Africa is a contentious issue and one that Phangela hopes, through its app and data information, it will be able to address by gathering ongoing independent statistics.
Phangela SWAT CEO, Charl Jacobs says that crime is getting more and more sophisticated in direct correlation to the barriers that are implemented to help prevent criminal activity. “In order to fight crime effectively, we need people who are not afraid of the criminals and have the tools and might to deal with them head on. When you consider that there are, on any one day in South Africa, 80 violent protests taking place, one realises how information about what’s happening, and where, will be increasingly essential.”
Funding the expansion
“While many security companies provide the basic service, they are invariably bottom-line driven,” explains CEO Charl Jacobs. “At Phangela, we are self-funded and always have been. We are passionate about fighting crime and we believe that if we realise our expansion plans and our objectives, the profits will follow. Our first and only priority right now is security and in meeting the needs that South Africans are now demanding – more sophisticated and reliable security and armed response.”