This article about Roadblock Rights was originally published on 15 Jan 2020 and was updated on 21 June 2020.
The 2020 lockdown has seen an increase in police activity and it is more important than ever to know your roadblock rights. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers in South Africa have proven themselves to not be trustworthy, and many a South African has fallen prey in one way or another.
Part of our #CannabisCanHelpSouthAfrica campaign is about raising awareness, not only for our petition – which would help eliminate the need for articles like this one – but also to educate our Cannabis community about what they are allowed to do when they get pulled over at a roadblock.
Jo wrote the below article where she introduces us to a simple one-pager that explains your roadblock rights in a nutshell. It’s in your best interest to get a copy of this and empower yourself with knowledge:
Knowledge is power, we all know this. You’re a smart activist so you’ve already got a copy of the latest Know Your Rights leaflet, you even keep one in your car in case you ever need it, right? It’s a great document with so much information in it. So, so much information. Maybe a bit too much when you’re mildly panicking due to a possible situation looming and trying to find specific information quickly.
Like when you’re coming face to face with the police on the roads.
There’s always this niggling fear when you realise you’re headed into a roadblock, or you’re being signalled to pull over by the police. It’s got nothing to do with any kind of guilt (usually), but more like facing an uninvited game of Russian roulette. Are these good cops or bad cops? Am I about to be robbed, or worse, assaulted and kidnapped by a gangster in government uniform, or will they smile and wave me on my way?
When time is of essence, this quick and easy 1 page document could be quite useful. It’s roadblock specific information and can be downloaded as a pdf, printed and kept in the car for quick reference:
If the above are not fully complied with and you are unlawfully arrested, you have full right to sue the police and, according to the South African Police Service Directive issued on 19 November 2019, the arresting officer will be held personally liable for any financial compensation the Service is ordered to pay as a result thereof.
The definition of Unlawful Arrest can be found in the same Directive. Please download and print this document too, read through it, highlight the important parts, for instance the various descriptions of unlawful arrest (paragraphs 4, 5, 8, 10), the full and proper arrest procedure, and the NEW consequences of an unlawful arrest (paragraph 20).
A quick google showed me that in a recent unlawful arrest case, the plaintiff was compensated somewhere around R300k. Once officers realise that the money will come from their own private pockets they will have to start thinking twice about being a bad cop.
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I was pulled over at a roadblock last night. After pulling over and rolled my window down the cop occused me of being under the influence and asked for my drivers license. I had no weed in the car. I was however smoking at my friends house before leaving to go home, but didn’t consider myself still high and so thought it was safe enough to leave.
The cop said he could smell weed and demanded that I get out the car and proceeded to search it for drugs. After having found nothing, they threatened to throw me in jail for “driving under the influence”.
Standing on the road, pleading for them to let me go, they insinuated paying a bribe to let me go. I didn’t have any cash on me so I was instructed to drive back up to a garage to draw R1000 in order to get my licence back and go.
In the moment I knew I hadn’t done anything illegal but was scared because I have a lot to lose (career wise) if I get arrested. I simply complied out of fear.
Do our cops know the law, or are they really just taking the piss??
I’m sorry that this happened to you. Our cops do NOT know the law. They don’t read their directives and circulars. You should NOT have paid a bribe and let them win. The onus is on YOU to know your rights. If you knew your rights you would not have been scared and paid a bribe. Sadly most members of the public don’t know their rights and are prey to this fear mongering for bribes behavior from the SAPS on a daily basis. Please read in our FAQ about how you can help to change this.
Thank you for the informative write up.
I own a CBD Oil shop (or should I say used to). The cops raided my shop just as I had left and searched the premises until they found 62.5g of weed. They subsequently arrested my employee and summoned me to the Police station. By the time I arrived, my employee was charged for possession. We appeared in court the following day only to find that our case is remanded to the 3rd of March as my employee wanted to contest the charge….Are we still being charged for possession? Any advise/opinion would be welcome.
So sorry you have to go through this. A possession charge is a possession charge and they can’t change that. We predict that your case will be dismissed but you never know. Please call our Dagga Arrest Helpline and Charl will take you through what to say in court. You will find the contact number on our website. Please also join The Green Network so we can continue to help people like you. Click on “Join Us” on the website.
I thank u guys for the information you provideng about cops