Reporting Road Crimes & Accidents

Learn how to report a road crime or an accident and gain quick access to emergency contact numbers. 

General Overview

If someone has been a victim of a crime, or witnessed any criminal activity, they should report it to their nearest South African Police Service station. It is free to report a crime and a police official will help a person to complete all the necessary documentation.

If a person visits their local police station to report a crime, a police officer will first interview them and then take a statement. The reported crime will then be registered in the Crime Administration System (CAS).  The reporter will be given a CAS number (case number), which must be used for all enquiries regarding the reported criminal case.

Note: A person must remember to note down the details of the police officer to whom they have reported the crime to.

The police will then open a case docket and investigate the crime. The detective in charge of the particular case will complete the investigation and present the docket to the relevant Court for prosecution. The detective is meant to keep the reporter of the crime informed of any progress including when to attend the court hearings.

Note: Other than the CAS number, a person should also remember to get the contact number of the detective in charge of investigating the case for any future correspondence that might be necessary.

A person can also report crime anonymously by calling 08600 10111 or calling 10111 for crime emergencies. This service is available 24 hours a day and is free.

Note: Anyone can report a crime if they suspect criminal activity, they do not have to be a victim.

Reporting an Accident

Accidents happen all the time, and it is not always easy to distinguish between an accident or a crime, but a simple rule of thumb is that crimes generally require intention on the part of the person committing it, while an accident does not. However, accidents can still give rise to legal consequences, such as claims against a party for negligence. Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care, for example, recklessness. Members of the public are advised to report any and all accidents to the police.

Note: Negligence is a very complicated aspect of South African law and therefore, a victim or a criminal witness should use the assistance of a lawyer to proceed with their claim, if they have any.

Reporting Car Accidents

Car accidents are an everyday occurrence on South African roads. While being a responsible driver does reduce a driver's risk behind the wheel, car accidents can happen anywhere, at anytime and to anyone.

Note: Members of the public are bound to report any and all car accidents to the police.

It is normal that a person experiences troubling emotions after they have had a crash but it is important that they remain calm and ensure that they follow the following steps:

  1. The person should stop and remain at the scene of the accident;
  2. The person should make sure that the environment of the accident is safe, including placing traffic cones or triangles on the relevant portion of the road;
  3. The person should collect the information of all the relevant parties involved;
  4. The person should report the accident to the police; and
  5. The person should alert their insurance company, if any, of the accident.

 Step 1: Remaining at the scene of the accident

In the unfortunate event that a driver has been involved in a collision, they should stop their car immediately and remain at the accident scene. Failure to stop is a serious offence and an offender may face severe criminal charges, particularly where somebody sustains injuries or dies from an accident.

If a person has been injured as a result of an accident and they must be driven to the hospital, members of the public should call an ambulance call immediately on 101777. If a person has fallen unconscious as a result of the accident, they should not be moved until the ambulance arrives, unless a hazard requires that the person should be moved immediately.

Note: Someone found guilty of an offence of hit-and-run can be fined up to R180 000, or face an imprisonment sentence of up to nine years, or both.

Collecting the information of all drivers involved in the accident

It is important to collect the following information from all vehicles involved in the accident:

  1. The drivers' names;
  2. The drivers' identity numbers;
  3. The drivers' addresses;
  4. The drivers' telephone numbers;
  5. A description of the motor vehicles;
  6. The registration numbers of the motor vehicles;
  7. Any relevant details from the licence discs;
  8. The date, time and address of the accident;
  9. The weather and road conditions when the accident occurred;
  10. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses of the accident; and
  11. Any other information that might serve as evidence.

 

It is also important to take pictures or film the following:

  1. The scene of the accident from all angles;
  2. The surrounding area;
  3. Injuries, if any; and
  4. Any damage to the motor vehicle and their belongings.

 Note: If an employee is driving a motor vehicle on behalf of their employer, then the details of the driver and the employer must be taken.

Step 2: Reporting the accident to the police

If there have been any deaths, serious injuries or significant damage to the motor vehicle or a person's personal belongings, the person should call the police. They must provide their vehicle registration number, name and address to anyone who has the authority to ask for them.

The police need not be called if there has been no personal injuries, but the crash must be reported - by both drivers. This must be done within 24 hours if a person has been killed or injured or on the first working day after the accident if no-one has been killed or injured.

Note: A police report is one of the most critical pieces of evidence for determining liability in the event of a car accident. A person must always request the police for a full copy of the report that has been filed. The person should also remember to note down the name of the police officer and the accident report's reference number.

Step 3: Contacting the Insurance Company

A person should inform their insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. If a person is insured they will be able to claim damages from their insurance. The insurance will then have to claim from the person who caused the damages or their insurance company for the damages.

Note: A person should always be completely honest when detailing the events that led up to the accident, any personal damages and injuries. They may also be asked to submit a police report. 

What can a driver do if their vehicle is not insured?

If a person's vehicle is not insured, they will have to claim from the person who caused the damages to their motor vehicle or belongings. Although tensions and emotions might run high, a polite but firm resolution to a dispute is always more favourable and beneficial for all involved parties when compared to a legal solution.

In the event that a party wishes to pursue legal actions, they may resort to the following courts:

  1. If a person has a claim of less than R15 000, they can pursue a claim in the Small Claims Court;
  2. If a person has a claim of more than R15 000, they will have to pursue a claim in the Magistrate's Court with the assistance of an attorney.

If a person or family member has been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident they have a right to claim for damages from the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

The following are examples of negligent driving:

  1. Driving at an excessive speed or in excess of the speed limit;
  2. Failing to keep a proper look-out; or
  3. Failing to keep the motor vehicle under proper control.

Criminal Investigation of Road Accidents

A road accident will be criminally investigated by the police in the following instances:

  1. When a person has been killed;
  2. When a person has been seriously injured;
  3. When a vehicle of a national or provincial government department has been involved in an accident or contributed to an accident;
  4. When it appears that a serious offence has been committed; and
  5. When a written complaint is made by either a victim of a road accident, an eye-witness or a member of the community that an offence has been committed.

Emergency Contact Numbers

The following numbers are available for those in emergencies; do not hesitate to call at any time of day!

  1.  South African Police Service - 10111
  2. Department of Transport and Public Works - 021 946 1646
  3. City of Cape Town - 021 4807700
  4. Road Accidents Fund (RAF) -  021 408 3300