The COVID19 global outbreak has resulted in many countries implementing several drastic measures which are aimed at curtailing the spread of the deadly virus. South Africa in particular, on the 26th March 2020, underwent a nation- wide lockdown and the Government has since deployed members of the South African National Defence Force (hereinafter referred to as the “SANDF”) to assist members of the South African Police Services (hereinafter referred to as the “SAPS”) in ensuring compliance with the Regulations, and controlling the movement and safety of people within the Republic.
Since the commencement of the lockdown, there has been several arrests and detentions made by the SANDF and the SAPS of those individuals who fail to abide by the prescribed Regulations. Many concerns have however been raised, reported and observed through social media regarding the manner in which perpetrators have been treated, and the brutality to which they have been subjected to by the SAPS together with the SANDF.
Although the right to movement, as ordinarily enjoyed by individuals has been severely restricted by the Regulations amid the COVID19 pandemic, people are still permitted to leave there homes when attending to any of the essential needs (exclusions) as listed in the Regulations themselves including, inter alia, attending a funeral, seeking medical assistance and/or to purchase essentials.
Law enforcement officers, being the SAPS & the SANDF, therefore have an obligation to enquire and establish from any concerned person their reasons for being out in public. If such persons fail to provide justifiable reasons, the most extreme step to be taken by the law enforcement officials would be to arrest the person in breach of the regulations, alternatively they are to be requested to return home and remain on lockdown.
The forceful and brutal behaviour to which people are being subjected to is inhumane and degrading. Such conduct is against the Constitution, Legislation and the Common Law, and persons who are subjected to such brutality may institute legal proceedings against the state for damages.
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