You are driving back home after a night out and suddenly you see the blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. What are you required to do when those lights are directed at you and further, when they are making you feel unsafe and uncomfortable?
It is important to understand that the South African Police Service (SAPS) or relative Metro Police Officers, in uniforms, have the right to pull over on the road and to search the vehicle should there be any suspicion rose on their side. In the instance where you are being pulled over but you do not feel safe on the basis that you are unsure whether or not the police officers pulling you over are authentic, the “blue light protocol” has often been used.
What was once endorsed as the “blue light protocol” that is; slowing down, putting on your hazards and indicating to the police vehicle to follow you to a safer area be it the nearest police station or a public space fully covered with CCTV cameras (for example, the forecourt of a petrol station) has since become greater cause for concern. This is due to the fact that officers have not taken this protocol seriously and are still guilty of violating the rights of citizens.
In light of this, it is important to remember that you are entitled to ask the police officer in question for identification and/or their appointment certificate. If the officer cannot provide the relevant identification then they will be in violation of the law.
A police officer has the right to request that you step out of your car to be searched however, if you are a woman than you may ask for a female police officer to search you and should a female officer not be present, the officers will be required to call for another police squad car to conduct the search.
Importantly, all police vehicles have a code printed on the side. This code is useful to remember if you are being harassed because the letters represent the name of the police station and the numbers represent the squad car number.
Ultimately, police officers are authorized by the law to pull you over and conduct relevant searches. So, what should you do in the event that you are pulled over and you feel unsafe? Immediately, dial 10111 to verify the legitimacy of the officers/squad car thereafter follow on with the “blue light protocol”. This will create a safety net in the event that the “blue light protocol” does not go according to the way that it should go.
For any assistance on these relevant issues please feel free to contact Tuckers attorneys on 011 897 1900, 076 777 1920 (afterhours) or email@example.com.
Article contributed by Ra’eesah Akoon of Tuckers attorneys.