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Over the past 10 years, the private security industry in South Africa has grown exponentially, with 86% more security companies registered with the official industry regulatory authority in 2023 than in 2014. These days, more than 15 000 registered companies employ around 2.8 million security officers in the country.

Hidden among these statistics is one of the oldest and most enduring security services providers in the country: Capital Security in Pietermaritzburg.

Back in 1989, during the last, turbulent days of apartheid in South Africa, Jakes Singh recognised the need for private security providers and founded the company that has since flourished into a successful family business. Having started on his own with two guards and one site, Singh and his two sons now employ more than 100 security officers and run more than 50 sites.

“People felt unsafe and intimidated in those days, much like they do today,” recalls Jakes. “The difference is that the technology then was seen as a luxury, as rich men’s toys, whereas today, technology in security is a necessity.” Capital Security provides a full range of security services to schools, universities, government departments, commercial and industrial companies and private homes. “There are prominent people in this town who have been personal security customers since I started,” says Singh.

He is proud of the fact that the same loyalty applies to staff members, some of whom have been with Capital Security from the start. “Good people on the ground are important; without them you are nothing. If you look after your staff, they will look after your business. We treat our staff with respect and pay them well and on time. In return we expect honesty and integrity from them.”

Good staff is one of the reasons behind Capital Security’s 34-year success, along with innovation and transparency. “You have to think out the box in this business to stay one step ahead of criminals that are always finding new ways to breach security measures. You must also be honest with your customers and not tell them only what they want to hear. The truth is that we provide prevention, not a cure, because no system is foolproof.”

A working life spent putting yourself in the shoes (and minds) of criminals in order to anticipate their next move, will take a toll on anyone’s wellbeing. Jakes restores balance to his life by purposefully switching off when he leaves the office. “We know what we are dealing with and that we are at risk but carrying that burden will burn you out. We deal with each day on its own.”

Working with family also eases the pressure. For Jakes, knowing that his sons care as much about the business as he does, is a great source of comfort and peace of mind. His eldest son, Rinesh, is an integral part of running the technical side of the business, while the younger son, Jashwin, puts his accounting background to good use in developing and improving business systems and managing customer accounts. “The upside of a family business is that you know you have people you can rely on and who have your best interests at heart,” says Jakes. “If I do well, they do well. Also, being with my family all the time, motivates me to keep moving the business forward.”

While not quite family, Jakes sees Business Partners Limited as an important factor in Capital Security’s success. The relationship started in 2017 when the company provided Jakes with the financing he needed to expand. Since then, he has bought numerous properties with Business Partners Ltd’s support and, he is quick to add, he has been contracted to guard some of the Business Partners Ltd’s properties. “You can say we have a joint venture of some sort! Our relationship with Business Partners Ltd is important to the business.”

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