South African Roadblocks Exposed

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It's important to know what your rights are when it comes to roadblocks so that you aren't taken advantage of but also to know what the policemen are allowed to do so that we don't get into trouble.

Do you also get that feeling like you have done something wrong when you are stopped even if you haven't? It's the worst! BUT please know that if you ever feel like you are in danger you may insist on driving to the nearest police station before further investigation.

There are 2 types of roadblocks:

  1. Informal: this is generally a quick stop and go procedure to check for licenced/ unlicensed drivers and stolen vehicles. These smaller stops are normally found at off ramps at random.
  2. Formal: the K78, is a nationally recognised roadblock that allows traffic and law officials to search any and all vehicles and persons should they find reason. This is generally set up on major motorways.

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At An Informal Roadblock An Officer May Legally:

  • Check for any outstanding fines
  • Check your vehicle’s licence disc and make sure your car is roadworthy
  • Request to see your driver’s licence & ID

Police may ONLY arrest you for unpaid fines if a warrant has been issued for those traffic fines and the officer can show you a valid copy of the document that states there is a  warrant for that specific fine.

Should the policemen suspect that the driver is driving under the influence, he/she may take the steps below:

  • The Officer may request the driver exits the vehicle
  • The Officer may request that the driver takes a breathalyzer test if the driver refuses the officer may detain them and have blood tests done at the closest police station. 

At A Formal(K78) Roadblock An Officer May Legally:

  • Seize any items from your car or from a person in the car BUT only if it's illegal or suspected to be linked to a crime
  • Perform a body search on a person of the opposite sex
  • Search your vehicle or the driver/passengers without a warrant

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What Can You As The Driver Legally Do?

(YIP you have rights to, make sure you know them!)

1. Any member of the public may legally request to see a copy of the written authorisation letter given by the National Police Commissioner, that gives permission for this roadblock. The authorisation letter must state the following information to make it valid:

  • The purpose of the roadblock
  • The date of the authorised roadblock
  • The duration of the roadblock

2. As mentioned before if it is an informal roadblock and you feel that your safety is being compromised you may insist on driving to the nearest police station for the search/ investigation to commence.

3. It is legal for you to film any Officer during the roadblock and it's illegal for any Officer to confiscate or damage that recording or evidence. This is the best piece of evidence for you to hold if something goes wrong. 

4. By law you may take the Officers name and badge number down and they may not refuse giving it to you. Remember to take down the vehicle number on the side of their car as well (again if this is all in a video it's easier to prove your case).

An article we suggest for you: 

New Demerit Driving System Approved: 12 Strikes & You’re Out!read more moneypanda

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