Director Johan Pool says Leopard’s aim is to provide a pro-active security service for in-transit, highvalue consignments of copper, copper concentrate, and cobalt and other high value goods. These commodities represent high risk and extremely vulnerable cargos with numerous hijackings and theft a common occurrence.
In 2007, for example, two Zambian police officers were convicted of hijacking and murder following an attack on a truck loaded with copper. Similar incidents have been reported in the DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa, (SA truck hijacks increased by almost 40% between 2006/2007), and to a lesser extent in Namibia and Botswana.
The envisaged security cover will be provided for the owner of the cargo, be this the actual mining company or the buyer, and would start at the mine and end on hand-over of the cargo at the final destination (a port or a processing plant). There are three key destinations for the bulk of the copper and cobalt coming out of the region. These are Dar es Salaam, Walvis Bay and Durban.
According to Pool, the proposed safe stopover points for high value trucks is just one aspect of Leopard’s package of services which also comprise a series of assessments and evaluations.
Leopard could, for example, conduct an overall risk assessment on a transporter's dispatch and logistics operations. With 80% of reported hijackings involving some form of collusion involving the drivers and/or the dispatch personnel, Pool says everyone involved in the supply chain should undergo an integrity test which involves psychometric and polygraph tests. Further to this, drivers will be subject to crime checks and even their credit worthiness. This will allow Leopard to compile a data base of all drivers employed by a client. These profiles will be available to all its other clients as well.
Similar integrity checks will be made on security personnel working for their clients and those employed at the proposed safe truck stops. It is pertinent to point out that these truck stops will not be anything like some of the truck stops that have been established in South Africa, such as the Highway Junction in Harrismith.
Leopard says the safe stops will be just that: a safe place for trucks to pull off the road and allow the driver to rest for the night in safety. “This is Africa we are talking about,” says Pool. “We do not envisage takeaways or restaurants, pool rooms, refuelling points or anything like that.”
He says that existing truck stops along the selected transport routes would have to meet Leopard’s security rating before they would allow their clients’ trucks to stop over.
According to Leopard’s criteria, the principal objective of safe stop over points is the provision of a resting place where truck drivers are able to freshen-up in comfortable and secure surroundings (tidy, quiet and spacious).
The amenities, which it is envisaged will be financed and managed by local entrepreneurs along the routes in question, would be minimal with operational showers, toilets, wash basins and proper lighting. There has to be a strong emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene.
Ideal is that the stops have perimeter protection in the form of 1,8 metre, flat razor wire fencing. Nothing must be placed within two metres on either side of the fence and all vegetation within this space should be cleared.
As far as access to the “camp” is concerned, while a boom gate is acceptable for daytime use, a lockable gate should be used during the hours of darkness. Strict record keeping of all entries and exits is a pre-requisite. No visitors should be allowed into the camp. This is because, in their experience, quite often visitors are women who are working closely with criminal syndicates.
On the question of security, Leopard says the ideal situation would be to have armed national police or private security in place from 18:00 to 07:00 and normal private security guards controlling the gate during the day.
Leopard says the proprietors would have to liaise with local law enforcement agencies to ensure alertness during periods of truck departures. This would require reconnaissance patrols from law enforcements agencies within proximity of location.
The camp management should also be made aware of or take note of strange vehicles in and around these truck stops as this is where the syndicates convince the drivers by either intimidating them or by offering them incentives if they work with them. Strange vehicles - specifically those with GP registrations - spotted in and around the truck stopover’s must be recorded and the control rooms immediately informed.
On the point of monitoring GP registered vehicles, Pool explains that this has become necessary as local crime syndicates - mostly from Gauteng - are active in neighbouring states and are known to send hijack teams to intercept vehicles en-route from the copper belt.
In addition to security checks on drivers and logistics staff and the establishment of safe stops, Leopard says, if necessary, it will utilise armed escort vehicles to ensure the safe transhipment of high value goods.
Drivers will receive anti-hijack training and learn how to react to an “intimidatory” approach. In this respect, Leopard is in the process of compiling a handbook for the drivers outlining a series of procedures and safety checks they must follow.
Pool and his team are confident of the success of the new venture. “Certain aspects of Leopard’s security strategies have been used by some of the mining operations in the past with positive results,” he says. “We know it does work and that it can be expanded across the region. This is not a pie-in-the-sky venture. It is based on a definite need and solid facts.”
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