A roadblock is a legal blockage of public, and sometimes private, roads. These are set up by the metropolitan police units and/or the South African Police Service (SAPS) as checkpoints, on the instruction of the police commissioner, based on Section 215 of the Constitution. There are many reasons why the police would set up a roadblock, such as the tracking down of a suspect, the suspicion of criminal activity, or the monitoring of traffic.
When pulled over by the police, you have the right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect,
- Ask a police officer to provide proof of identity through an appointment certificate,
- Request that the police officer provides their name, rank and service number,
- Request to see written authority to conduct a roadblock,
- Report unlawful police conduct, unnecessary use of force, or other forms of police misconduct.
It is important to know and understand your rights in relation to policing; however, it is very important to note that it is best to not confront the police with an assertion of your rights if you believe that it will aggravate the situation, or if you fear for your physical safety. It is advisable to remain calm and ensure that you memorise as much information as possible, and thereafter lay a complaint with Corruption Watch, the Independent Policing Investigative Directorate, or the SAPS Anti-Corruption Unit.
Often, especially at night, motorists may feel wary about being stopped at a roadblock or when signaled by the police to pull over. Follow these steps if you feel threatened or unsafe:
- Remain calm and rational.
- Call 10111 and inform them of your concern (if there is a passenger in the car, ask them to do it on your behalf). Provide the operator with a vehicle registration number so that they can verify if that car is in fact a police vehicle.
- If you are being followed and requested to pull over by a police vehicle, and you cannot get through to the 10111 Call Centre, slow down and switch on your car hazards. Open your window and indicate with your arm that you would like the police vehicle to follow you – ensuring that you do not exceed 40km/h. Drive to the nearest police station or petrol station where you are in the company of others and in view of CCTV cameras.
- Should you be stopped at a roadblock, but feel threatened, you are at liberty to ask the official(s) for their name, rank and number. Calmly inform them that you wish to call 10111 to confirm their identity. If the official(s) become agitated, it is best to remain compliant. If necessary, you can submit a formal complaint at a later stage.
- Legally, you are allowed to film or photograph police officials at a roadblock.
- It is illegal for officials to confiscate or damage your recording equipment or force you to remove footage or images.
- If a police official solicits a bribe from you at a roadblock, you should report the matter to the supervisor at the scene. The advantage is that the suspect is there, and you can identify them immediately.
If you believe the police acted unlawfully or infringed upon any of your rights at a roadblock or when pulling you over, you can lay a complaint with the police at the nearest police station or contact the following organisations:
Investigative Directorate (IPID)
Head office: 012 339 0000Provincial contacts:
Eastern Cape: 082 592 9888
Free State: 063 225 6081
Gauteng: 076 455 5178
Limpopo: 078 871 4811
KwaZulu-Natal: 079 895 2741
Mpumalanga: 072 881 4196
Northern Cape: 064 624 8203
North West: 078 163 6874
Western Cape: 021 941 4800
|SAPS National Service
Call centre: 0800 333 177Provincial contacts
040 608 7078 / 082 301 8275
|African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum||E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Corruption Watch||Website: www.corruptionwatch.org.za
WhatsApp: 072 013 5569
About Kyle Condon: Kyle Condon – Grad of I.S (SA) is a founding member and Managing Director of D&K Management Consultants. This second-generation Private Investigation and Fraud prevention company assists businesses and individuals to handle various criminal and civil investigations. After more than 27 years in business, Kyle is regarded as one of the country’s leading minds on business crime and investigations. Kyle is a regular contributor to local newspapers and television news. He is also the Regional Director (Africa) on the Council of International Investigators (CII).