Roadblocks

Learn how to navigate legal situations on the road, such as getting pulled over by the police, recognising lawful and illegal roadblocks, and managing arrests and vehicle searches.

General

When dealing with the police, members of the public ought to always be honest and pleasant. Members of the public ought to never become unruly or threatening toward the police no manner what the circumstances; however, they should stand their ground and not be bullied too. 

Note: 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, including when interacting with the police.

Authorised Roadblocks

Roadblocks are authorised by a letter signed by either the National or Provincial Police Commissioner(s). The police are granted the powers of search and seizure at roadblocks. A member of the public may request to see the authorising letter before allowing their vehicle or person to be searched.

Unauthorised Roadblocks

The police may hold impromptu or unauthorised roadblocks if they have reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed and that the suspect(s) are travelling in the area. The police are granted the powers of search and seizure at these roadblocks to look for the suspect(s) alone. However, if the police have a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed by a member of the public, they are allowed to arrest or search that member of the public and/or their vehicle.

Being Pulled Over

If a moving police vehicle indicates that a member of the public must pull their motor vehicle over and the member of the public feels unsafe or unsure of the validity of the police officers, they may:

  • Put their hazard lights on and proceed to the nearest police station or a well-lit public area while being followed by the police; and/or
  • Request the certificate of appointment of the police officers pulling them over.

Searches

Search with a warrant: 

The police may search the vehicle of a member of the public or their person if they have a valid search warrant to do so. Members of the public may request to see a valid copy of the search warrant before allowing their vehicle to be searched. 

Note: A member of the public is entitled to only be searched by a police officer of the same sex as them and may refuse being searched if a police officer of the opposing sex tries to search them. 

Search without a warrant: 

The police are allowed to search a member of the public’s vehicle or their person if they have a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence has been committed or is about to be committed by that member of the public. If there is no reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the police are not allowed to search a member of the public’s vehicle or their person. 

If the police search a member of the public's vehicle or person without a warrant and it is found that the suspicion of their search was not based on reasonable grounds, any evidence found during the search will not be accepted in Court. 

Note: A member of the public is entitled to only be searched by a police officer of the same sex as them and may refuse being searched if a police officer of the opposing sex tries to search them. 

Search of Person by Same Sex Police Officer: 

A member of the public is entitled to only be searched by a police officer of the same sex as them and may refuse being searched if a police officer of the opposing sex tries to search them.

Arrest

Arrest Warrant: 

The police may not arrest a member of the public without a valid arrest warrant. Members of the public may request to see a valid copy of the arrest warrant at any roadblock before being arrested. 

When arresting a member of the public, the police have the duty to inform that member of their rights, including their right to remain silent and the consequences of not remaining silent. If this is not done, the arrest is unlawful. 

Arrest Without Warrant: 

The police are allowed to arrest or detain a member of the public without an arrest warrant if: 

  1. That member of the public commits a criminal offence in front of the police; or
  2. The police have reasonable grounds to suspect that that member of the public has committed or will commit a criminal office.

When arresting a member of the public, the police have the duty to inform the member of the public of their rights, including their right to remain silent and the consequences of not remaining silent. If this is not done, the arrest is unlawful. 

Arrest for Outstanding Traffic Fines: 

The police are not allowed to arrest members of the public for outstanding traffic fines without a warrant of arrest to do so, which members of the public are entitled to see. However, the police can issue summons to people who have outstanding traffic fines to appear in Court for their outstanding traffic fines. The date of Court appearance must be at least 14 days from the date the summons was issued on (not counting the date of issue, Sundays or Public Holidays).