Most of us drivers have been caught in a roadblock of sorts at some stage in our driving career. These are normally an inconvenience as well as being rather terrifying experience. But what is legal and what can officers not do in a roadblock? We have done our homework and found out the ins and outs of roadblocks in SA. Here's what you should know:
There are two different kinds of roadblocks which take place on the roads of South Africa. The informal roadblock is a random roadblock set up on major highways at random. These are normally set up to ensure that people have valid licences and discs. The K78 is an official roadblock that has been nationally or provincially approved by authorities. During this type of roadblock, police was allowed to conduct full vehicle searches as well as full body searches. Just note that any uniformed police officer may stop any vehicle at anytime of the day or night. If you are on your own you may feel slightly unsafe. You are allowed to ask the officer to follow you to the nearest police station.
There are a variety of rules and regulations that you as the driver have to adhere to when partaking in a roadblock operation. With this being said, you have the right to ensure that the roadblock is actually legit and that the people stopping you are legit too.
If an officer wants to arrest you because you have unpaid fines, you are allowed to refuse the arrest. An officer is only allowed to arrest you if they have been issued with a warrant for your arrest. This needs to be in writing and they need to present you with a valid copy of this warrant. They are allowed to serve you with a summons to appear in court. This is only valid if the date is 14 days after they have pulled you over and issued you with the paper.
It is in your best interest to be civil and respectful of the officer that pulls you over during an inspection. If you refuse to do something that is asked of you and it escalates, you could be arrested for verbally abusing an officer.
Please take all these elements into account when you are next stopped at a roadblock. Remember, we have rights and responsibilities during these situations.