SAPS national commissioner, Khehla Sitole, has published a new directive aimed at outlining the role of responsibility of police officers during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
The Daily Maverick reports that the directive has been published inline with a High Court judgement which ordered the government to ‘publish a code of conduct and operational procedures regulating the conduct of the SANDF, SAPS and MPSs in giving effect to the State of National Disaster’.
“Complaints of torture, excessive use of force, inhumane treatment and punishment of the community by enforcement officers (including members of the SAPS) during the State of Disaster have come to the attention of the national commissioner,” Sitole said.
“Conduct of this nature by members of the SAPS is unacceptable and will be dealt with in terms of the criminal law and the disciplinary process of the SAPS.”
Some of the key points outlined in the directive includes:
* Members refers to SAPS members and personnel.
- The relief commander should instruct members during each parade on their functions and duties, cautioning them regularly and strongly against any use of unnecessary violence;
- A member may only arrest a person if he or she has the power (authority) to arrest that person;
- Members must ensure that a particular offence exists in law before arresting a person for the commission of an offence;
- The directive notes that where certain conduct has not been criminalised (such as the wearing of mask or social distancing), members must sensitise ‘transgressors’ that their conduct is endangering their health and that of others;
- The directive also notes that the country’s lockdown regulations change often, and that members should always be up to date with the latest rules;
- Members may arrest a person without touching them by ‘forcibly confining’ them. However, the directive notes that members may use force to effect an arrest only in certain limited circumstances;
- Members may not use private equipment not issued by the SAPS such as ‘sjamboks’;
- The directive sets out a clear zero-tolerance approach to torture, and notes the actions which are defined as torture under the Prevention and Combatting of Torture of Persons Act;
- The directive also outlines the complaints procedure for members of the public where they believe that an SAPS member has acted unlawfully.
You can read the full directive below: