It’s a familiar story. A quiet Thursday afternoon and then all hell lets loose. Cops are jumping the fence, they are already in your garden; everyone is heavily armed and screaming and it takes a bit of time to realise you’re in the middle of your own bust. All those pertinent questions you had in your head about warrants and your rights as per the ConCourt privacy judgement dissolve as fear and irrationality take over.
Thursday is an excellent choice of day. If the cops take it nice and slow, they can help themselves to your home and pull apart every corner. A relaxed afternoon and evening for them –  psychologically wearing you down with threats to kill your pets and so on. By midnight after a harrowing few hours, you’ll be booked in to a disgusting cell which will more often than not be your home for the next three nights. Your weekend accommodation will obviously be populated by a volatile cross section of cooked and crooked characters.

The South African Police Service narcotics nasties have been jack-booting the country’s illicit drug using citizens into arrest and detention for a few generations. You could attribute their sadism to an Apartheid inheritance if you like, but some police clusters are quieter than others when it comes to dagga skirmishes. Fields Of Green For ALL’s arrest helpline has identified some of the country’s hot-spots of dagga arrest incidents. This always leads us to believe weed arrests are a personal vendetta initiated by a cluster commander or some such official looking for station quotas at the expense of the druggies and not a blanket national pastime.

An important Directive was issued to all SA’s police staff recently from the National Police Commissioner, Major Khelha Sitole. It reminded those who are employed to protect and serve us that the SAPS were sued to the tune of R150 million in 2019 as an government organ; the majority being for wrongful arrest and detention, and of course all of the costs being footed by you, the taxpayer.

The Directive orders this practice to stop immediately. There are far too many arrests out of pure malice. As the orders explain, why detain someone who obviously has an address, a job, kids in school and is zero flight risk? A summons to appear should be the only form to fill in. But it rarely is. Arrests and detentions are about humiliation, as ours was in 2010 in the middle of a freezing cold winters night in our underwear.

Warrant-less searches and break-ins, destruction of property, playing judge and jury and generally being an intimidating team of thugs has been the modus operandi since before living memory. A crucial component in the Directive may change all of that. It expressly says if anyone sues the cops and wins, then the individual cop(s) is/are liable for the expenses NOT the State.

Hitting people in the pocket is traditionally an effective tool, so we can only hope this latest communication filters down to to the thugs in blue in a digestible and understandable manner. SA’s Cannabis users are sick of the way the cops play judge and jury and we’re sick of the reports to FGA of personal items and belongings (including the weed) not making it onto the evidence sheet and thereby rendering the whole affair null and void as an arrest that will never achieve a conviction.

We recommend you download and read the Directive. There are some groundbreaking points and we welcome this major step forward. The war on drug users has never endeared the cops to the general public, but this might go a long way to changing the way our police now do business.

However, we’d still recommend being on full alert on a Thursday afternoon if you’re growing lank dank!

This article originally appeared on fieldsofgreenforall.co.za and was published with permission.

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