Constitutional Hill

Can the police search your car without a warrant?

It is unclear exactly what happened when billionaire businessman and publisher of the newly launched newspaper, The New Age, Atul Kumar Gupta, was stopped at a roadblock in Johannesburg this weekend. What we do know is that Mr Gupta was travelling in his black X5 BMW from his offices in Midrand at about 9pm on Saturday when the police stopped him on the R55 highway. His driver and bodyguard was frisked. Police found a licenced firearm on him. According to The Sowetan:

Sources said when the police officers wanted to search Gupta and his car he refused. He then got on the phone and said he was calling General Bheki Cele, but not before telling them that he knew all the top police commissioners and would get them all fired. “All hell broke loose when Gupta refused to be searched. He also boasted that he was well-connected to Cele, threatening the arresting officers that they would pay for their actions,” one source said.

Mr Gupta was arrested and charged for refusing to have his car searched. Later he denied all the allegations against him and yesterday all charges against him relating to the obstruction of justice were dropped. This is, of course, a rather juicy story because Gupta is said to be close to President Jacob Zuma and his son, Duduzane, and is bankrolling a newspaper with strong ties to the ANC.

Nevertheless, the story also poses another interesting question about the powers of the police to stop and search individuals at roadblocks. As Michael Trapido points out, both the Criminal Procedure Act and the Police Act (amongst others) empower the Police – in certain circumstances – to search an individual’s car without first obtaining a search warrant.

The Criminal Procedure Act allows the police to search any person or any “container or premises” of that person without a search warrant. It also allows the police to seize any article reasonably believed to have been used to commit a crime or that is reasonable believed to be evidence that could assist the state in proving that a crime was committed. This can be done only if the owner gives consent for the search or if the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a search warrant would have been issued and a delay in conducting the search would have defeated the purpose of the search and seizure operation.

This means that a police officer can search you personally or can search your car or house – even when no search warrant was obtained and even when you did not give permission for such a search – but only when he or she has a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or are hiding evidence that could prove that you (or others) are guilty of a crime. So, if a police officer stops your car and the sweet smell of dagga wafts from the car, that police officer can search your car to try and find any dagga you might be hiding – even without first obtaining a search warrant to do so.

According to the relevant case law, a police officer must in fact have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or that you are in possession of material used or to be used in the commissioning of a crime. A mere assertion by a police officer that he or she had such a suspicion without any evidence to back it up will not do. This means that where a police officer stops you in the street and decides that you are a drug dealer merely because your hair is died green or because you are wearing a T-shirt with a picture of the Nigerian flag on it, he or she will not be able merely to argue that there is a reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime or are in possession of material used in the commissioning of a crime and, hence, will not be entitled to search you.

This also means that if members of the police knock on your door and say they want to search your house, you should think twice before giving them permission to do so. It would perhaps be better always to first ask them for a search warrant. If they do not have a search warrant, you should ask them to inform you of the evidence on which they base their reasonable suspicion that you are hiding criminal activity. If they cannot give a good answer, they are not entitled to search your house without obtaining a search warrant first.

But that is not the end of the matter. The Police Act also allows members of the Police to set up roadblocks with the permission of the National or Provincial Police Commissioner. Section 13(8)(f) of that Act allows any police officer to search any car stopped at a roadblock and to seize any object that is reasonably believed to have been used in a crime or can be used as evidence in proving the commissioning of a crime. If one is stopped at a roadblock, one has a right to be shown a copy of the written authorisation given by the National or Provincial Police Commissioner for the setting up of the roadblock.

This section is much broader than the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act as it allows a police officer to stop you, search your car and then seize any item – even when that officer initially had no reasonable grouds for believing that you were involved in the commissioning of a crime or was in possession of evidence relating to the commissioning of a crime. So, even if you are driving home, listening to classical music on Fine Music Radio, stone cold sober, minding your own business, this section will allow the police to stop you at a roadblock and search your car without a warrant – just in case you might be a classical music loving terrorist ferrying explosives or a notorious (classical music loving) drug dealer.

The constitutionality of these provisions have not yet been challenged and, until they are, the police would be well within their rights to stop you at a roadblock and to search your car (as they did with Mr Gupta). However, it is clear that these provisions infringe on the right to privacy guaranteed in section 14 of the Bill of Rights. The only question would be whether such an infringement would be justifiable in terms of the limitation clause.

The Constitutional Court has stated that the right to privacy is a layered right. This means there is a continuum of privacy rights which may be regarded as starting with a wholly inviolable inner self, moving to a relatively impervious sanctum of the home and personal life and ending in a public realm where privacy would only remotely be implicated. An infringement of privacy rights would be easier to justify where the infringement occurs in the public realm rather than in the inner sanctum of one’s home.

For example, when one is searched before entering a soccer game or when entering the Parliamentary precinct, this infringement would be considered relatively trivial and would easily be justified. On the other hand, a warrantless search of your house or car would be more difficult to justify.

In deciding whether the legal provision that empowers a police officer to infringe your right to privacy is justified, one will have to look at how serious the privacy breach allowed by the law is. The closer the breach to your “inner sanctum” the more difficult it would be to justify the infringement. That will have to be weighed up against the importance of the purpose of the law allowing the breach of your privacy. If the breach is to protect the public from terrorist attacks at a soccer game, I suspect a court will be very reluctant to find the infringement constitutionally problematic. Finally one will have to ask whether there are not less restrictive means that could have been used to achieve the same important purpose. The broader the power given to the police, the more difficult it would be to justify.

I suspect that in the light of the above, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act would probably withstand constitutional scrutiny because a police officer can only infringe your right to privacy if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that a crime was committed or that you are holding evidence of the commissioning of a crime. Preventing crime is rather important and the limitation of your right to privacy would be justified because the power given to the police is limited to cases where they have a reasonable suspicion that you are a bad apple.

However, I suspect the provisions of the Police Act that allow a police officer to search your car at a roadblock – even when he or she has no reasonable grounds for suspecting you have committed a crime or hold evidence of the commissioning of a crime – would not pass constitutional muster. Because the powers given to the police in the latter instance are so broad that they could easily be abused to intimidate and harass innocent and law abiding road users, the provisions are probably overbroad and hence unconstitutional.

But until the constitutionality of these provisions are challenged, they remain in forces, and one would not be allowed to refuse to have your car searched on the basis that the empowering provisions allowing the police to search your car are unconstitutional just because some upstart law professor said so on his Blog. If Mr Gupta was stopped at a roadblock, he would therefore have had no right to refuse to have his car searched. He would have been obliged to submit to the search, but he would, of course, have been entitled to challenge the constitutionality of the provisions of the Police Act at a later stage.

However, Mr Gupta’s threat that he will sue the police for wrongful arrest will probably come to naught. While one can claim damages for wrongful arrest, the provisions of the Police Act are so broad that it would be difficult to argue that the police acted unlawfully in this case. Even if he was not stopped at a roadblock, the police will probably claim that they had a reasonable suspicion that he was involved in crime and hence that they were entitled to search the car in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Unless, of course, the police had no permission from the Police Commissioner to set up the road block, in which case Mr Gupta might well have a case.

PS: For a good discussion that captures the essence of all the relevant issues relating to searches and seizures, see the LLM thesis of Vinesh Basdeo

  • Paul

    It is not clear to me that Mr Gupta was stopped at a formal road block. Wouldn’t it be most unusual for a road block to be authorised in writing by the National or Provincial Commissioner and then only have one vehicle and 2 policemen present?

  • John Roberts

    You are misinformed Meneer de Vos.

    Gupta was not stopped at a roadblock. He was randomly pulled over by a single vehicle (probably looking for a bribe)

    Does this change everything or nothing ?
    How many vehicles and whatnfrastructure constitutes a roadblock ? 1 car and 2 policemen or the written authority.

    Perhaps you’ll inform us once you are better informed :)

  • John Roberts

    Besides which, Mr Gupta was merely a passenger in the car. Dis they suspect the passenger or the driver of something. This incident smacks of racial profiling by the police. They saw a black driver (bodygurad) in an X5 and had grounds to suspect the vehicle was hijacked or stolen. Just like the old days … except now they’re profiling themselves !

    I always knew they’d come around to our way of thinking.

  • Stephen Grootes

    Great piece Prof, we were kicking this around in the newsroom just the other day.

    A question. When you talk of invasions of the “inner sanctum” would that apply to a cell phone. If, for example, I had information and someone (say, an Mpumalanga politician) wanted to know where I had got it from, would the police be allowed to set up roadblocks on all the routes around my house, so they could search me, and then go through the “contacts” and “last called” sections of my cell phone?

    Would my cell phone and the information on it be protected in any way, or would I have to give it up. Or do I need to find a model with a self-destruct device? And must I avoid Pig-spotter at all costs?

    Thanks
    Stephen

  • Chris

    I also got the impression from news reports that Mr Gupta was not stopped in a road block. I was approached for a legal opinion on a very similar matter last week, and my advice was that the search was unlawful, the plaintiff had the right to refuse to be searched and has a valid claim for unlawful arrest.

  • http://www.newstime.co.za/rs_main.asp traps

    Thanks Prof

    Brilliant as always.

    I’ll do a short intro with a link to this piece tomorrow.

  • Pierre De Vos

    Stephen, unless the police has a reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime (based on facts, not on absurd conjecture) it would be unlawful – as the law stands – for them to search you and to confiscate your phone. If they stopped you at a bona fide road block, as the law stands, they will be able to search you but will not be able to confiscate your phone unless they had grounds for that reasonable suspicion either. The problem is that they might do it anyway, in which case you have grounds for an action, but that would not protect your information. Your example demonstrates why the law as it stands might be too broad and might be unconstitutional. Information on one’s cellphone – especially if one is a journalist – would be very close to that “inner sanctum” which would be constitutionally protected. Problem is as the law stands it does not take full account of the kind of situation you allude to and hence the provisions of the CPA and Police Act might be overbroad and unconstitutional.

  • Pierre De Vos

    If Mr Gupta was stopped not at a road block but just while driving, the police have a problem. But I suspect what happens in such situations is that the police conjure up a set of facts to claim that they had a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in crime and hence that in terms of the CPA they were entitled to stop and search you. Given the provisions of section 14 of the Bill of Rights, if challenged, those reasons provided by the police will be scrutinised closely to see if they hold water but then it might be too late.

  • marco polo

    Thank you for this information, Prof de Vos. Have you considered writing a layperson’s guide to a citizen’s basic rights (“revised and updated” to take account of the police’s “tougher” attitude to fighting crime)? Considering the number of stories one hears about the apparent abuse of rights by the police, I’m sure it would sell well.

  • etienne marais

    pierre,

    in the scenario where an arrest takes place at a legally sanctioned roadblock, during which the police confiscate a mobile phone (let’s say an android-based”smart phone”), if the data on that phone is protected via sophisticated encryption and the user interface and file system is protected via strong password; would the police have sufficient cause for arrest if the owner of the device refuses to share the password with them ?

  • kenneth

    Impressive comment from John Roberts, it sounds like you are (born again),

  • Brett Nortje

    I hope that the right questions are going to be asked considering the topic.

    For a start: Considering the short period Gupta has been in the country how is it possible he already has the licence for his firearm?

    I’m going to set some homework for this topic:

    Study: S2 of the Constitution
    : Judgement of Kriegler in Fose
    Read : Ch 13; 14 and 15 of the Firearms Control Act
    :Judge Sachs’ beautifully written judgement in Mistry

    There will be a quiz!

  • http://www.newstime.co.za/rs_main.asp traps
  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Hey Brett,

    “For a start: Considering the short period Gupta has been in the country how is it possible he already has the licence for his firearm?”

    Does Gupta have a firearm?

  • Kassie

    Roadblocks function on the basis of extortion.

    I once dared to ask for a warrant at such a roadblock and was informed that the mere asking of such a question was sufficient reason to search without warrant.

    But, unless allowing them to search without warrant, please pull over till a judge can be woken and a warrant obtained – with some luck a few hours later.

    Very simply said: Do as you are told by the criminal scoundrels called police, unless you want the Gupta treatment.

    The was a joke asking what one calls a terrorist with an AK47… you call him SIR!

    Today the question is wjhat you call a man in blue – the answer is obvious.

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, you’re assuming from the Sowetan article that the firearm belonged to the bodyguard. Do we know that?

    Go read Chapter 15 S117(2)(d)…

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Hey Brett,

    “Maggs, you’re assuming from the Sowetan article that the firearm belonged to the bodyguard. Do we know that?”

    Will Chapter 15 S117(2)(d) tell us if Gupta owns a firearm?

  • John Roberts

    The firearm was legally licensed to the bodyguard.

    Gupta has been in this country for nearly 10 years now.

    I once had the pleasure of doing some work for him. What an absolute gentleman he is. Not the kind you expect to find in bed with politicians.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    John Roberts says:
    September 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

    “The firearm was legally licensed to the bodyguard.”

    It is not that firearm which Brett has referred to when he asked “… how is it possible he already has the licence for his firearm?”.

    Brett seems to be aware (especially consider that Brett is very conversant with issues around gun ownership and licencing) firstly that Gupta has a firearm and, more importantly, that the firearm is licenced.

    Brett will inform us fully in due course on this.

  • Brett Nortje

    Really, JR? Heard of Mittal?

    I’ve been waiting for licenses for longer than 10 years.

    Maggs, if you’d read the presumptions as I told you to you’d know that the employer of the driver of the vehicle can be presumed to be in possession of the firearm and ammunition, or the person in charge of the vehicle, or…

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Hey Brett

    “Maggs, if you’d read the presumptions as I told you to you’d know that the employer of the driver of the vehicle can be presumed to be in possession of the firearm and ammunition, or the person in charge of the vehicle, or…”

    It seems that you are referring to the firearm that was found on the driver/bodyguard which according to my reading of the article was licenced to the driver/bodyguard.

    Are you suggesting that Gupta also needed a licence for the very same already licenced firearm?

    And if so, do more than one licences get issued for firearms?

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, we do not know for sure who that firearm was licensed to. Can we be certain that the gun was found on the bodyguard not Gupta? I interpreted the article the same way you did, but it might be that the firearm was licensed for business purposes?

    Yes, if husband and wife are going to use the same firearm for self-protection in the home they both need to get separate licenses for it under S12(1)?

    Gun Owners have been approached for advice where husband and wife kept similar firearms in the same safe, husband shot himself with wife’s firearm, wife got locked up for contravening the safe-keeping provisions of the FCA.

  • John Roberts

    What has Mittal got to do with Gupta ?
    You sound confused BN.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Brett,

    Thanks for the update on more than one person being licenced – but in regard to your comment about Gupta it sounds like you addressed that without thinking it through (:))

    Re the husband shooting himself – there’s better ways to die, like old age.

    Anyway the essence of this piece by Pierre is that out proudly South African Constitution is turning out to be, in some respects at least, pretty much like a piece of art to be admired from a distance (hey maybe that’s why the Concourt is so full of fancy artwork).

    Maybe it time to ask why do we need the constitution if people who are supposed to be at the forefront of ensuring that it is a living document show so much disregard and disdain.

  • Maynard Dworkin Fassbinder

    Brett, I know how you feel.

    I have been waiting since 2004 for a permit to enrich a very small amount of Uranium-235, using a generator-powered centrifuge I built in my garage. (Peaceful purposes only.)

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Maggs

    “Maybe it time to ask why do we need the constitution if people who are supposed to be at the forefront of ensuring that it is a living document show so much disregard and disdain.”

    They prefer being more active at CASAC

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, that is the purpose of reverse-onus presumptions. As the employer of the driver of that BMW and the person in charge of it Gupta can reflect on the different treatment he would be receiving if he was a penniless taxi-driver.

    Dworky, PAJA was enacted because it was required to be enacted ito S33(3) of the Constitution. Since then it has been urinated on by every ANC politician and deployed civil servant walking by it, much like my males lift their legs against everything they walk past that is not level with the ground to show their contempt for each other.

    You trivialise PAJA and the Constitution, Maggs deflects. I suppose one of the shortcomings of this Bill of Rights is that you cannot be forced to cheerlead for it?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Maynard Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    September 29, 2010 at 13:06 pm

    Hmmm Maynard,

    “I have been waiting since 2004 for a permit to enrich a very small amount of Uranium-235″.

    Well if you got to know the right people you could get to be one of the small group that gets enriched – see above for some names.

    Hope that solves your problem.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 13:26 pm

    Hey Brett,

    “a penniless taxi-driver”.

    Why would a penniless taxi-driver need a body guard with a gun?

    Where would we find a penniless taxi-driver?

  • Brett Nortje

    You’re compounding that woman’s tragedy after the fact by refusing her a fair hearing, Maggs. Giving her the finger. After making it clear with the legislation you support that she is ‘other’, that the protections in the Bill of Rights were not meant for her.

    Simply put: The state had no place telling her how to store her property in the privacy of her home.

    Sipho is a taxi-driver. A man comes running up to his taxi as it is leaving and jumps in. The cops force the taxi off the road 100 yards further and search everyone. They say a shopkeeper was shot in an armed robbery two blocks down. The cops find a Makharov pistol that must be ex an ANC arms-cache on the floor. They arrest Sipho.

    Go read the presumptions like I told you to and you’ll understand the legislation that authorised Sipho’s arest.

  • John Roberts

    Brett, what has Mittal got to do with Gupta ?

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Brett & Dworky

    I hope we are not going to argue over the size of our guns

    http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Penis-cops-sentenced-to-205-years-20100929

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 13:48 pm

    Hey Brett,

    I steer clear of the woman’s tragedy, especially so without knowing enough. It’s the fellow who shot himself that I was referring to when I suggested that there are better ways to die.

    Is Sipho the penniless taxi-driver?

    How do you know that the Makharov was from an ex ANC arms-cache?

  • etienne marais

    Baas Brett has spoken Maggs; go read the Act

    …although a broader reading of the Act will reveal that the intention there is to appropriate ownership of the firearm to the owner of the vehicle, where and only if, the ownership is disputed – e.g. where Brett’s “jumping man” asserts that it does not belong to him

    i’m going to assume (until definitively proved otherwise) that the firearm in the Gupta situation was found on the bodyguard and that the bodyguard claimed it as belonging to him and backed that assertion up by producing a valid licence for said firearm; that’s how i read the various reports

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, what other facts do you need? Husband and wife kept similar firearms in the same safe, husband shot himself with wife’s firearm, wife got locked up for contravening the safe-keeping provisions of the FCA when her husband got access to her gun.

    It is almost as ridiculous as the case where a gun owner was prosecuted for loss of a fire-arm when his .38 Spec revolver went down with his ship.

    Maggs, where would the hypothetical Makharov come from but an ANC arms-cache? Were the AWB smuggling Russian-made guns into the country the same time as the ANC?

  • Michael Osborne

    Brett, I humbly beg you never, ever, to use the word “other” as a verb again.

    Yes, Pierre does use American social science jargon now and again.

    But that is no excuse for you to do so too.

    Many thanks.

  • etienne marais

    yes Brett, what on earth has Gupta to do with Mittal ?!

    (other than some weird form of racially profiled guilt by association jive)

  • Brett Nortje

    Etienne, for the sake of this hypothesis Sipho put his left hand over his left shoulder for the money when he heard the door close – he did not see who jumped in as he was checking his blind spot.

  • etienne marais

    i concede Brett, in that case the ownership of the (illegal) firearm is bound to become contentious, but it has no bearing on the Gupta scenario

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    etienne marais says:
    September 29, 2010 at 14:08 pm

    “Baas Brett has spoken Maggs;”

    LOL!

  • Brett Nortje

    Remember, Etienne, who are the main beneficiaries of the protection money ArcelorMittal paid ICT to get its mineral rights in Sishen back?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 14:10 pm

    “Maggs, what other facts do you need?”

    Why did he (the dead fellow) decide to take his own life?

    “hypothetical Makharov” – thanks for clearing that up. For a moment there I though this was a serious matter.

    Hypothetical Sipho, hypothetically penniless, hypothetically a taxi-driver, hypothetical passenger enters, hypothetical policepersons …..

  • Brett Nortje

    Michael Osborne says:
    September 29, 2010 at 14:11 pm

    Bad Pierre!

    Michael, you have not read the background material on genocide I prescribed for you!

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, you’re slow today! The heat? Everyone else got that the taxidriver was a hypothetical since I cannot draw you pictures…

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje says:
    September 29, 2010 at 14:29 pm

    Brett,

    I normally trust what you say as factual.

    Others seem to know you better.

    So now the whole story about Sipho is made up, fabricated, lies?

    How am I ever going to believe you again, Brett?

  • zoo keeper

    Seems like the Police Act has not been “cleaned up” after Apartheid.

    This provision to be able to set up a roadbloc and search everybody and anybody’s things can only be a relic of a past which is well documented.

    Perhaps Pierre and your fellow defenders of the Constitution can start with a deconstruction of the Apartheid powers of the police?

    Of course, we should be worried why these types of powers weren’t repealed in April 1994 shouldn’t we…?

  • Brett Nortje

    More ominous than that, Zoo Keeper!

    The South African Police Service Act is Act 68 of 1995.

    It is part of the framework that was supposed to replace security legislation and reform the SAPS.

  • senor neek

    Anyone who tries to be as clever as the learned Prof at a “formal” or “informal” roadblock will shortly thereafter discover the pleasures of the interior of Hillbrow/similar SAPS holding cells.

    Let the bastards in blue perform an anal probe if they ask nicely or hand over the baksheesh (pronto). After dark in Joburg on Thu/Fri/Sat nights, there’s no rule of law or bill of rights or such legal niceties – there’s only a guy with a gun and handcuffs and the power to lawfully or unlawfully deprive you of your liberty.

    Get arrested on the aforementioned nights and you will see a Magistrate on Monday (if lucky) or Tuesday. Fancy spending 3 or 4 nights at Her Majesty’s Pleasure? Thought Not. So, don’t get arrested…or bribe your way out. The learned Prof may well disagree in public, but he’ll give you the same advice after a few scotches.

  • Dhevlen

    Does this mean that a Police Office can also pull you off the road and search your vehicle without any justified reason or cause.

  • senor neek

    @ Dhevlen: no, but is doesn’t make any difference at the the time to YOU. The SAPS and Metro possess little or no understanding of the applicable law. As per my previous post, might is right at night.

    See PdV’s comment, above:

    “If Mr Gupta was stopped not at a road block but just while driving, the police have a problem. But I suspect what happens in such situations is that the police conjure up a set of facts to claim that they had a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in crime and hence that in terms of the CPA they were entitled to stop and search you. Given the provisions of section 14 of the Bill of Rights, if challenged, those reasons provided by the police will be scrutinised closely to see if they hold water but then it might be too late.”

  • John Doe

    Here’s an interesting Q.

    I work at Lanseria Airport and was stopped at the boom gate as is the normal course to check my access permit (which is valid). It should be noted that this access is not onto the airfield/movements itself, but for access to the various businesses and offices on the airfield. So, it is part of Lanseria’s security juristiction. I was approached by a SARS customs official requesting to see my drivers licence…. he was unable to tell me why he wanted to see my drivers licence. I found this strange since I have a Lanseria valid permit for access. He then requested to search my car as they were doing random checks/searches….when I requested to see his search warrant he told he could do what he likes….

    Is this legal and lawful? Do SARS Customs officials have the right to search your car and belongings without a SAPS member present and without a search warrant….

  • Annabelle

    I get the whole spiel of what the cops are within their rights to do. What I would like a reasonably intelligellent answer to is why don’t I have the right to face my accuser, twice now “someone” has made false allegations to the police here and my home has been searched. Why can’t they tell me the name of the person making these claims? And when I ask the name of the head of the station, the idiot in charge of the oompa loompas I’m told that info has to be given in person. As a taxpaying law abiding citizen where are my rights? I’m so sick of the buddy buddy system where cops do as they please with no repurcussions, no wonder crime is on the rise, its getting harder to discern between the criminals and the cops, they seem in a league of their own.

  • LJ

    I have a question? reading this comments and postings up here. I had a lift with one of my friends and in the middle of the road we were asked to pull over by the SAPS. First the one person said that they are doing a search and the bouth of us sould climb out off the car. while my friend was at the polise bakkie they asked questions that was filled onto a papper and I was searched, my work back, under neath my seat and my whole body where they did not search my friend, or his side off the car. When asking why the one person said that this car unfamiliar to the area (but my friend has been stying in the area for over 10 years). also that we were pulled over for no reason at all.

  • Ryan Johnson

    HI there

    I was stopped 3 nights now in a row in Rivonia Road in sunninghill by differnet police officers, and twice in one night. I drive a 5 series BMW, single white male. +- 22h30

    Each time the police officers are abrasive and do a full search of my car and me and the way that it is done it feels like i am being harassed. Then even search my wallet, opening every little nook and cranny. Are they allowed to do this, and what are my rights when this happens??

    I am an innocent law abiding citizen but it feels like i am being victimized.

  • dr.zeek

    If it’s DARK / 22H30 and a man with a gun and a badge stops you in Africa, you do what he says.

    Constitutional rights mean NOTHING on the mean streets of Joburg, especially when dealing with the Metro Police – who aren’t exactly famous for being law-abiding.

    Try arguing the “reasonableness” of the search while incarcerated in Hillbrow/Douglasdale SAPS holding cells…for 3 or 4 nights.

  • errol

    i have a tricky situation. is a male security guard allowed to scan a female with a hand held metal detector ?(obviously making no contact with the body).

  • Benji

    I’m an Indian male, who just got back from touring Mozambique with 2 of my colleagues who I just dropped off back home in Soweto. Shortly after dropping them off, I was pulled off on the main road in Soweto by 3 S.A.P Police officers. The 1 cop dressed in casual clothing, produced his badge and asked me to jump out of my car. He searched my person, giving me a reason that they doing a “random search” on all “white Toyota Corollas” They searched all my luggage, searched my car’s airfilter, removed my sparewheel and searched at the bottom. The search was carried out at peak traffic hour in public, which was really embarrasing and humilitaing. They searched every corner of my car, but obviously found nothing. I am a law abiding citizen and NEVER been charged or convicted of anything. All I wanna know is, why did they pull me over, and is it legal to carry out such a dramatic search without giving a valid reason?
    Was it suspicious that an Indian was accompanied by to Black Men or was it unusual for an Indian to be seen in Soweto???? I often shop at Maponya Mall with my wife and son, but I’ll never do so again. Please reply..

  • Henrico Kumutu

    constitutionally speaking