Arrest is one of the lawful methods of securing the attendance of an accused person in court. It is also the most drastic method. Section 38 of the Criminal Procedure Act states that methods of securing attendance of an accused person include:
The basic principle of South African criminal procedure is that of access to courts, in accordance with section 34 of the Constitution.
When can a person be arrested?
A person may be arrested either on the strength of a warrant of arrest or when a police officer witnesses a person committing an offence or has probable cause to believe that a person was involved in the commission of a crime.
What rights does a person have when arrested?
If someone has, or is in the process of being arrested, they have the right to be informed of the charges on which they are being arrested. Most importantly, they have the right to remain silent, to be informed promptly of such right and the consequences of not remaining silent. Any information uttered or willingly given to an officer may be used against them in court.
After an arrest a person will, more often than not, be detained at a police station. In detention, you may be searched. You may however not be searched without your consent and a person of the same sex should conduct the search.
What rights does a person have when being detained?
When being detained, a person must be informed promptly of the reason.
Police bail and warning
For minor offences ’police bail’ can be granted or the police may release a detainee on a warning. In the case of police bail, the investigating officer will propose an amount for bail and an agreement should then be reached on the amount of bail.
After payment of this amount the arrested person may be released from custody. There should always be an officer on duty of sufficient rank to make the decision to grant or refuse police bail.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. (E&OE)