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People get arrested in South Africa every day.

Normally the SAPS will only arrest a person when a serious crime is involved, but this is not always the rule and people are arrested even for what one would think are minor offences like shoplifting of reckless driving.

If this should happen to you; what do you do?

The first thing to remember is: “Do not panic.”

Secondly: Think clearly and do not talk unnecessarily.

Thirdly: Co-operate with the SAPS and be disciplined and polite.

Fourthly: When they are processing you at their offices; give them all your personal details and your correct address.

Fifthly: Do not give them a statement regarding the circumstances of the alleged offence and if they push you in this regard tell them politely that you first wish to take legal advice. You can and should sign the warning statement which briefly confirms that you have been appraised of the charge against you and have been read your rights.

Briefly your rights in this regard in terms of section 35(2) of the Constitution (Act 108 of 1996) are amongst others that you have the right to be promptly informed of the reason for your arrest, to be informed of the right to remain silent, to be informed of the consequences of not remaining silent, not to be compelled to make a confession or an admission that could be used against you and to brought before a court within 48 hours of your arrest.

You also have the right to choose and consult with a legal practioner.

The whole of section 35 of the Bill of Rights deals with the legal rights of all arrested, detained and accused persons. Use you legal constitutional rights.

Lastly get hold of a legal practioner or legal consultant as soon as possible for obtaining proper, professional legal advice and in most cases: Follow that advice.

Once again; we must stress that it is always advisable for you to seek prompt, proper and professional legal advice and also to secure reliable legal services when dealing with factual and legal issues which are not known to you; as we reiterate that the law and legal issues can sometimes can be confusing and complicated, especially in this context.

If you have experienced difficulties with an arrest or enforcing your legal rights; contact us at The Legal Advice Office at or send an email to one of our email addresses; either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will revert within 48 hours.

Should you wish to comment on this or any other legal topic; just send us an e-mail; and we will respond within 48 hours; as stated above.

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.


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Legal Advice Office

South Africa

Kandelaar Street, Vermont, Hermanus
Phone: +27 (0) 82 093 2304