Colonel Helena Mouton, station commander, Sea Point SAPS
Numerous social media posts are seen in which members of the public question being searched during a vehicle checkpoint that is held by officers of the South African Police Service.
I want to bring the act under which vehicle checkpoints are held to the attention of the public to assist us in doing this function which is a very successful tool in our fight against crime.
A roadblock or vehicle checkpoint is authorised by Article 13(8) of Act 68 of 1995.
This act authorises a member of the South African Police Service to set up a roadblock or vehicle checkpoint on a public road.
During such a roadblock or vehicle checkpoint, a member is authorised to stop any person or vehicle and search such person, vehicle, receptacle or object and seize any article referred to in Section 20 of the Criminal Procedure Act. No 51 of 1977.
A vehicle checkpoint is aimed at the prevention of crime and therefore the South African Police Service will set up a vehicle checkpoint in an area that is prominent during the analysis of the crime reported within that station precinct and during a time that is showing the highest occurrence of that specific crime.
The vehicles and persons passing through the vehicle checkpoint will be subjected to be searched on a random basis or because of a specific modus operandi identified.
The question arises often as to passengers in e-hailing services being searched and once gain the act authorises the search of any vehicle and the occupants of any vehicle that passes through a vehicle checkpoint.
I quote Section 13(8)(g)(i) – (g): “Any member may, without warrant – (i) in the event of roadblock or checkpoint that is set up in accordance with paragraph (c), search any person or vehicle stopped at such roadblock or checkpoint and any receptacle or object of whatever nature in the possession of such person or in, on or attached to such vehicle and seize any article referred to in section 20 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, found by him or her in the possession of such person or in, on or attached to such receptacle or vehicle :Provided that a executing a search under this sub-paragraph shall, upon demand of any person whose rights are or have been affected by the search or seizure, exhibit to him or her a copy of the authorization by the Commissioner concerned.”
The South African Police Service is acting on the law of this country and the authority given to them by the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995 and in specific Article 13(8) in this Act.
Should any person have a concern or feel that they were ill-treated or treated outside the perimeter of this law, they can forward me as the station commander of Sea Point an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please ensure that you provide contact details and a short description of the incident in your correspondence so that we can contact you.