Fazul defends move to arm private security guards amid backlash

Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) CEO Fazul Mahamed (C) addressing the media at Kenya Railways Club, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Only a few individuals who are charged with special assignments would be armed if the proposal to give guns to security guards is adopted, the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) has said.

The regulatory body yesterday clarified that not all private security officers would be issued with firearms.

Speaking during a meeting with private security stakeholders, PSRA Director General Fazul Mohamed said every private security officer would have to undergo a thorough mandatory psychiatric evaluation.

Mr Mohamed said arming a specific category of private security guards would be the only way to ensure the safety of citizens in specified areas in the face of terrorism threats.

“After conducting a security risk assessment, we are convinced that if the guards were armed, they could have deterred the terrorists from taking innocent lives,” he said of the dusitD2 attack.

The majority of Kenyans have opposed the proposal to arm private security guards.

Leading the opposition is the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek), which has termed the proposal premature. "We wish to register our strong opposition to the proposal to prematurely hand out firearms to private security guards, with or without training of the respective guards," said Stephen Mutoro, the Cofek secretary general, in a statement.

Mr Mutoro said the group's attention had been drawn to what appeared to be a rather casual announcement by KPRSA under the Ministry of Interior and National Government Coordination.

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Arama also opposed the proposal, saying it would increase the number of guns in civilian hands.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula proposed that PSRA present a regulatory framework for the issuing of guns to Parliament for approval.

During the meeting, a proposal to have an integrated system where all the details of the 500,000 private security guards are kept was mooted.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi opposed suggestions that private security guards be armed. She said giving the guards firearms would be dangerous.

Speaking yesterday to journalists, Ms Elachi asked the Private Security Regulatory Authority to establish a regulatory framework before arming the guards.

“We must first have a proper legal framework in place before implementation. Furthermore, most private security guards do not have sufficient training and this could compromise our security.”

She argued that the best option was for the Government to allow security firms to assign National Youth Service graduates who, according to her, were better qualified to handle the weapons.