Unlawful arrests during lockdown – Know your rights!

There have been numerous posts in social media sharing in some cases what appears to be overreaching by the respective policing divisions, traffic, Saps and SANDF, with one of the more recent videos showing traffic officers manhandling a toddler and attempting to arrest what appears to be his father in Ballito. 

This clearly was not the objective of the regulations and directives issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

It is important for people to know what their fundamental rights are especially in circumstances where they are faced with answering to one or more of these policing authorities.

The office of the Major General Deputy Provincial Commissioner: Policing Limpopo Province issued a memorandum to its members that it has come to their attention that their members are arresting people for allegedly contravening the provisions of these Covid 19 regulations. For example  arresting a person for not wearing a mask in public. The failure to comply with certain regulations are not criminal offenses and SAPS members have been warned that arrest in these circumstances amounts to an unlawful arrest and exposes Saps to possible civil litigation and even goes so far as to warn the members that they may be personally held liable for any such loss due to their failure to fulfil theirduties within the ambit of their legal powers. 

A number of the regulations impose obligations on persons and entities, however the failure to comply with some of these is not a criminal offence as envisaged under the Criminal Procedure Act such as: –

1. Wearing of cloth and other masks in your private mode of transport and public places; 

2. Directives to persons in control of retail stores or institutions: such as taking measures to ensure social distancing, compliance with health protocols, limitation of the number of persons dependent on floor space and provision of hand sanitizers at the access and egress of the businesses;

3. Directives to employers: to implement the plan as per annexure E of the regulations, adherence to the standards of hygiene and health protocols and the provision of hand sanitizers to employees;

4. Public transport: – regulations and directives dealing with the different modes of public transport, the directives dealing with conditions regarding to the operating terms, loading capacity of the vehicle, sanitation and others.

NB: Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Should you require more information on this topic or any issue arising out of this please contact Allardyce & Partners on 011-234 2125 or enquiries@www.allardyce.co.za.

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