Police brutality during lockdown

Police brutality during lockdown

Author: Kabelo Komana – Candidate Attorney
* Article supervised by Candice Pillay- Director, Lawtons Africa
Article courtesy of Lawtons Africa

As South Africans remain indoors for an extended lockdown until the end of April 2020, reports of excessive use of force and unlawful assaults have been reported to enforce the lockdown.

A previous article “The State of the Law during Lockdown” set out the powers of enforcement officers during a state of disaster, confirming that enforcement officers are primarily peace officers and that the South African Police Services (SAPS) had powers to investigate and prosecute criminal offences. In investigating and prosecuting these offences, only the SAPS were authorised to use the minimum of force necessary to carry out their duties and where force was necessary, the use of force as a measure of compliance needed to be authorised.

With the onset of the lockdown, however, various reports have emerged on social media and in the news of incidents where enforcement officers allegedly assaulted civilians who were believed to not be complying with the lockdown.

Regulation 11G of the regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the National Disaster Management Act 67 of 2002 states that any person who contravenes these regulations will be liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months. The regulations do not confer or authorise the use of force on members of the public to comply with the national lockdown.

Police brutality is defined as the unlawful abuse of the capacity to use force by a police or peace officer. It includes unlawful detention, unlawful arrest, malicious prosecution and physical assault by enforcement officers on citizens, while they are conducting their functions as enforcement officers.

Read the full article here

The State of the Law during Lockdown

The State of the Law during Lockdown

Updated: Apr 14
Authors: Candice Pillay – Director, Lawtons Africa
Article courtesy of Lawtons Africa

The nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus was announced on 23 March 2020 amid speculation and fear around the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the South African Police Services (SAPS) and metropolitan police services.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a national state of disaster invoked the provisions of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) [1], as amended. The President did not, however, declare a state of emergency as provided for in Section 37 of the Constitution [2], which would have invoked the State of Emergency Act (SOE) [3]. It is important to understand that the powers conferred on enforcement officers during a state of emergency and a state of disaster are entirely different.

During a state of disaster, the powers conferred by the DMA [4] are to (a) assist and protect the public, (b) provide relief to the public, (c) protect property, (d) prevent or combat disruptions, and (e) deal with the destructive and other effects of the disaster. This is the overall mandate of all enforcement officers during a state of disaster.

The Defence Act (DA) [5] allows the President to deploy the SANDF in order to (a) preserve life, health or property in emergency or humanitarian relief operations; (b) ensure the provision of essential services; (c) support any department of state, including support for purposes of socioeconomic upliftment; and (d) effect national border control [6]. During this deployment, a member of the Defence Force is regarded as being a peace officer [7] as defined in section 1 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) [8]. As such, SANDF members have limited powers which are subordinate to the powers conferred on members of the SAPS. In circumstances where the SANDF are involved in crime prevention activities, any persons detained or arrested, or goods seized, must be handed over to the relevant SAPS member.

Read the full article here.



Lawtons Africa is a South African law firm. With roots that grew out of seeds sown in down-town Johannesburg in 1892, our history features various changes and different names. Our team ofapproximately70 lawyers, including directors, consultants, associates and candidate attorneys is highly qualified, market-recognised and skilled. For further information, visit www.lawtonsafrica.com