The first and most important reason 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 and not a security guard or anything else.

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 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.

Here are 8 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.

  • Check with PSiRA to ensure that they are registered, this can be done online at and simply enter the person’s last name on the right-hand side under the heading, REGISTRATION ENQUIRIES. When the result is displayed look under the section that says SPECIALIZED COURSES this is where it must say, Private Investigator. If it says anything else like; Security Officer, Response Security Officer etc then they are registered as a security guard and NOT a private investigator and to then offer the services of a private investigator is illegal.
  • Ask the individual you wish to hire to provide a resume 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.
  • Agree on pricing upfront before hiring a private investigator. Discuss requirements for a retainer, hourly fees, flat fees, expense reimbursement, etc.
  • 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.
  • Insist on having a signed contract.
  • Before you hire a private investigator, meet them in person if you can, preferably at their place of business, agency office, Many detectives don’t have an official office and don’t necessarily need one to get results. But if they do, visiting their office will help you gain comfort on their legitimacy and perhaps the quality of their business operation.
  • Avoid doing business with those who openly suggest breaking the law.
  • 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;

  • Possible fine or criminal action
  • You will be responsible for the actions of the “private investigator”
  • The “PI” will be discredited in court
  • Any evidence gathered by the “private investigator” will be deemed illegal and thrown out of court
  • A very real possibility of loosing your case