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.
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.