Knowledge is power, we all know this.  You’re a smart activist so you’ve already got a copy of the latest Know Your Rights leaflet, you even keep one in your car in case you ever need it, right?  It’s a great document with so much information in it.  So, so much information. Maybe a bit too much when you’re mildly panicking due to a possible situation looming and trying to find specific information quickly.

Like when you’re coming face to face with the police on the roads.

There’s always this niggling fear when you realise you’re headed into a roadblock, or you’re being signalled to pull over by the police.  It’s got nothing to do with any kind of guilt (usually), but more like facing an uninvited game of Russian roulette.  Are these good cops or bad cops?  Am I about to be robbed, or worse, assaulted and kidnapped by a gangster in government uniform, or will they smile and wave me on my way?

When time is of essence, this quick and easy 1 page document could be quite useful.  It’s roadblock specific information and can be downloaded as a pdf, printed and kept in the car for quick reference:


If the above are not fully complied with and you are unlawfully arrested, you have full right to sue the police and, according to the South African Police Service Directive issued on 19 November 2019, the arresting officer will be held personally liable for any financial compensation the Service is ordered to pay as a result thereof.

The definition of Unlawful Arrest can be found in the same Directive.  Please download and print this document too, read through it, highlight the important parts, for instance the various descriptions of unlawful arrest (paragraphs 4, 5, 8, 10), the full and proper arrest procedure, and the NEW consequences of an unlawful arrest (paragraph 20).

A quick google showed me that in a recent unlawful arrest case, the plaintiff was compensated somewhere around R300k. Once officers realise that the money will come from their own private pockets they will have to start thinking twice about being a bad cop.

This article originally appeared on and was published with permission.

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Photo by Ari Spada on Unsplash