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You have the right to arrest!

The Free State farming community was deeply shaken when two female farmers were arrested and harassed by police after they lawfully arrested two stock thieves in early August, in a typical case of a reverse arrest scam that has become more and more popular among criminals.

According to reports, Janné and Lize-Mari Smith spotted a suspicious vehicle when they went to investigate after their livestock alarms triggered repeatedly during the evening. They had suffered large livestock losses due to theft in the previous weeks and were hoping to avoid more losses. On arrival, they were able to arrest two suspects but the third fled the scene. The sisters called the police for assistance. Shockingly, around thirty officers including Free State SAPS members and members of the Hawks, armed with assault rifles, arrested the two sisters and a third male victim without a warrant, ransacked their home and imprisoned them for three days.

“South African citizens have the constitutional right to make a citizen’s  arrest under the  Constitution and there are  formal requirements in the Criminal Procedure Act to comply with,” says Dr Llewellyn Curlewis criminal law expert for Firearms Guardian.

“Arrests by private persons are governed by the Criminal Procedure Act, No. 51 of 1977 (the CPA) and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996 (the Constitution). The Act takes the following factors  into account: The circumstances of the arrest and how much force was used.

The circumstances.

“In terms of section 42 of the CPA: Arrest by private person without warrant:

(1)   Any private person may without warrant arrest any person:

(a) who commits or attempts to commit in his presence or whom he reasonably suspects of having committed an offence referred to in Schedule 1:

(b) whom he reasonably believes to have committed any offence and to be escaping from and to be freshly pursued by a person whom such private person reasonably believes to have authority to arrest that person for that offence;

(c) whom he is by any law authorised to arrest without warrant in respect of any offence specified in that law;

(d) whom he sees engaged in an affray;

(2)  Any private person who may without warrant arrest any person under subsection (1) (a) may forthwith pursue that person, and any other private person to whom the purpose of the pursuit has been made known, may join and assist therein.

(3)  The owner, lawful occupier or person in charge of property on or in respect of which any person is found committing any offence, and any person authorised thereto by such owner, occupier or person in charge, may without warrant arrest the person so found.

How and with how much force was used in effecting the arrest.

In terms of section 49 of the CPA: Use of force in effecting arrest

For the purposes of this section:

(a) “arrestor” means any person authorised under this Act to arrest or to assist in arresting a suspect;

(b) “suspect” means any person in respect of whom an arrestor has a reasonable suspicion that such person is committing or has committed an offence; and

(c) “deadly force” means force that is likely to cause serious bodily harm or death and includes, but is not limited to, shooting at a suspect with a firearm.

(2)  If any arrestor attempts to arrest a suspect and the suspect resists the attempt, or flees, or resists the attempt and flees, when it is clear that an attempt to arrest him or her is being made, and the suspect cannot be arrested without the use of force, the arrestor may, in order to effect the arrest, use such force as may be reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances to overcome the resistance or to prevent the suspect from fleeing, but, in addition to the requirement that the force must be reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances, the arrestor may use deadly force only if—

(a)  the suspect poses a threat of serious violence to the arrestor or any other person; or

(b)  the suspect is suspected on reasonable grounds of having committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily harm and there are no other reasonable means of effecting the arrest, whether at that time or later.”

What is a reverse arrest scam?

South African criminals have a new trump card up their sleeves and it threatens to even further compromise the already broken South African justice system and these cases are on the rise. Cases of reverse charges are most commonly seen during a citizen’s arrest where, after a criminal has been arrested by the citizen, they will claim that they were assaulted during the procedure and will lay a charge against the arrestee. This is done to intimate the victim and discourage them from going through with their charges, giving them a-get-out-jail-free card. Firearms Guardian’s elite legal team is well aware of these scams, and will ensure our clients do not fall into their traps.

According to (retired/former) magistrate & experienced former prosecutor adv. Henk Nolte this scenario is one of the reasons Firearms Guardian is a must have for all firearm owners. If these farmers was one of our clients, they would have never seen the inside of a jail cell.

What if this happens to you:

In South Africa no one can afford to say “it won’t happen to me.” You need to be prepared for anything. Firearms Guardian understands your concern for the safety of your family and are there for you when you have to take drastic action to protect those you love. In any investigation following the use of your firearm, you need Firearms Guardian to guide you and to guard your interests. 

Learn more:

The Firearms Guardian policy is administered by Firearms Guardian (Pty) Ltd (FSP47115), an authorised Financial Services Provider and underwritten by GENRIC Insurance Company Limited (FSP43638), an authorised Financial Services Provider and licensed non-life Insurer.