Roadblock is a blockade of the road by law enforcement officers, this may be traffic or police officers or combination of both. Roadblocks are regulated by Section 13 (8) of the South Africa Police Act,68 of 1955.
The National or Provincial Commissioner must authorize the members to conduct a roadblock at any public road or specific place for specific purpose.
The Authorization must be in writing and it must specify the date of the roadblock, the approximate duration and the purpose of that particular roadblock. Search and seizure without a warrant is authorized.
Things Law Enforcement Officers may do at the roadblock are the following:
- They may search your person/or property without a warrant at a properly authorized roadblock;
- Seized any evidence or contraband without a warrant;
- Issue an infringement notice/ fine;
- Issue a notice to discontinue and or impound a vehicle which is roadworthy;
- Arrest any person who has been or suspected to have been committed a schedule 1 offence;
- Arrest any person whom a warrant of arrest is issued by the court; and
- Arrest any person who commits an offence in his presence.
Things Law Enforcement Officers may not do are the following:
- May not physically or verbally abuse you or damage your property;
- May not merely threaten to arrest you;
- Must not solicit a bribe;
- May not force you to pay traffic fine at the roadblock, even though the facility such as a bus is there to do so;
- May not without the return of your license card in order to coerce you to pay outstanding fines where no warrant is issued; and
- May not discontinue or impound your vehicle without a reasonable grounds.
Things that you allowed to do when stopped at the roadblock are the following:
- You may demand to have sight of or check his or her certificate;
- You may demand to have sight of or check the written Authorization to conduct the roadblock as is contemplated in terms of section 13 (8) of South African Police Act; and
- Demand to see a proof of warrant of arrest if one claims to exist.
Things you may not do:
- Do not offer to pay bribe;
- Do not resist arrest;
- Do not physically or verbally abuse them or damage their property;
- Do not refuse to provide a breath alcohol or blood sample;
- Law enforcement officers are not Judicial officers and roadside is not a court and you must do the following when you feel that your rights are infringed upon;
- Note as many as u can such as police officer’s name, date, time and location;
- You are not prohibited by law from taking photographs and videos at a public place;
- You must do so without interfering with his or her duties and do not take pictures or videos in such a way that you irritate them; and
- Report any form of abuse to your lawyer immediately when you are at the scene. He or she will advice you further what you must do.
Roadside check is materially different from roadblock
- This is where you are pulled over by law enforcement officers or stop you when they are parking on the side of the road. It is not regulated by section 13 (8) of South African Police Act as it is not a roadblock.
- The officers are not allowed to search you and your property without a search warrant unless there are reasonable grounds to do so or you consented to such a search.
Take note that Police officers are not immigration officers and therefore they have no right to ask or demand to see your passport when the nature of the roadblock is not to inspect passports. You must always ask for written Authorization when you come across such an incident at a roadblock.