• Why it's important to only hire a registered/licensed private investigator.


    This article applies to hiring a private investigator in South Africa


    We have been receiving a large number of complaints from people who have been scammed by fake private investigators. Many of these have been found online via Gumtree etc. The reason people have given for hiring these fraudsters was that their rates are far cheaper than legitimate registered private investigators. Many of the complaints involve paying money upfront and never seeing the person again, blackmailing the client that they will tell the person being investigated that they are being investigated and going to the person being investigated and offering them the information about them being investigated for a fee.

    The scams sometimes involve large sums of money, we have seen amounts in excess of R50,000.

    The first and most important reason to only hire a registered private investigator for you, the client, is that South African legislation, PRIVATE SECURITY INDUSTRY REGULATION ACT, 2001 and the accompanying PRIVATE SECURITY INDUSTRY REGULATIONS, 2002, makes it a violation of the law to hire a private investigator that is not registered as a private investigator with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, (PSiRA) with a prison sentence of up to two years. The same penalty applies to a person providing services as a private investigator without being registered with PSiRA.

    They must be registered as a private investigator.

    By being registered with PSiRA the private investigator has to comply with a strict code of conduct, and it gives you, the client, recourse and assistance if you have a problem with the private investigator or the services they provided.

    To be registered as a private investigator in South Africa you have to take a course at Unisa or some similar approved institution, these courses usually run a year or more. If you have prior experience as a private investigator or police officer to can apply for prior experience credit. You also have to submit a complete set of fingerprints which are submitted to the police for a background criminal check.

    Tips to consider when hiring a private investigator. Following these simple guidelines will help you hire an investigator or agency or company that provides quality service.

    1. Ask them for their PSiRA registration number. Both their individual number and the company's numbers.
    2. Check with PSiRA to ensure that they are registered, this can be done online at https://www.psira.co.za/ and then simply click on INDIVIDUAL VERIFICATION on the right-hand side of the page. When the result is displayed look under the section that says SPECIALIZED COURSES this is where it must say, Private Investigator. But just because the person is registered as a private investigator does not give them the authority to practice as a private investigator, the company they work for also has to be registered. You can check company registration by clicking on BUSINESS VERIFICATION. Alternatively, you can also call PSiRA to check on a registration status at 086 133 3850. Our registration number is 2791975
    3. Ask the individual you wish to hire to provide a CV or personal dossier or view their LinkedIn profile. Evaluate the work history for relevant experience. Look for relevant experience as an investigator, length of time of that experience etc. Check for relevant education such as training in criminal justice, criminology, and forensic science. Also, look for special training and continuing education credentials.
    4. Agree on pricing upfront before hiring a private investigator. Discuss requirements for a retainer, hourly fees, flat fees, expense reimbursement, etc.
    5. Discuss and agree on the services you wish the investigator to provide, and agree upon the results you expect. If both parties have a clear understanding of the expectations, it is easier to gauge performance and increases the likelihood that both parties will be satisfied with the results.
    6. Insist on having a signed contract.
    7. Before you hire a private investigator, meet them in person if you can, preferably at their place of business, agency office, etc. In South Africa, Private Investigators are required to work for a registered investigation company and that company is required to have an office.
    8. Avoid doing business with those who openly suggest breaking the law.
    9. Check their website. Do they have one? If so, is it a quality site with good information? We recommend checking out their website prior to making a phone call.

    Consequences of hiring an unlicensed/unregistered private investigator

    A few of the consequences that can arise from hiring an unlicensed/unregistered private investigator are;

    1. Possible fine or criminal action against you the client
    2. You will be responsible for the actions of the "private investigator"
    3. The “private investigator” will be discredited in court
    4. Any evidence gathered by the "private investigator" will be deemed illegal and thrown out of court
    5. A very real possibility of losing your case