E-mail on women’s right to fight arrest a hoax

2009-05-19 00:00

AN e-mail claiming that women can successfully challenge police arrest between 6 pm and 6 am is a hoax.

The e-mail describes an incident in which a young couple in a car were stopped by a plainclothes police officer. When the man, who was driving, was asked to produce his driver’s licence, he did not have it. He was instructed to go home and get it while the woman was told to accompany the policeman to the police station. However, he took her to an isolated area where he attacked her. The attack is described as a “horrendous crime”.

The e-mail goes on to say that there is a law that “states that between 6 pm and 6 am, a woman has the right to refuseto go to the police station, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against her”.

It then states that a woman can be arrested between 6 pm and 6 am, but only if she is arrested by a woman officer and is taken to an “all-women police station”.

This is completely incorrect, says Sally de Beer, director of the communication and liaison services office of the Acting National Commissioner of the SAPS.

“A woman can be arrested at any time of day or night by both male and female police officials, with or without an arrest warrant, depending on the circumstances. A person may be arrested without a warrant, for example, if a serious offence has been committed in the presence of a police official, if a police official reasonably suspects that person has committed a serious offence or if a suspect has escaped or attempted to escape from lawful custody.”

A woman who has been arrested may not refuse to accompany a police official of either gender to a police station, says De Beer, and can be charged with resisting arrest if she tries to do so.

De Beer said the concept of “all-women” police stations is not practised in South Africa, but added that a woman can be searched only by a female police official in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

She asked that people ignore the e-mail and refrain from disseminating it. “Responding to inquiries emanating from its circulation is causing a waste of the police’s time,” De Beer said.

An e-mail claiming women can only be arrested between 6pm and 6am is a hoax and has been repudiated by the police.

The e-mail describes an incident where a young couple in a car were stopped by a plain clothes officer. When the man, who was driving, was asked to produce his driving license he did not have it. He was instructed to go home and get it while the woman was told to accompany the policeman to the police station. However he took her to an isolated area where he attacked her. The attack is described as a “horrendous crime”.

The e-mail goes on to say that there is a law that “states that between 6 pm and 6 am, a woman has the right to REFUSE to go to the Police Station, even if an arrest warrant has been issued against her.”

It then states that a woman can be arrested between 6 pm and 6 am, but only if she is arrested by a woman officer and is taken to an “all women police station”.

This is completely incorrect says Sally de Beer, Director of the Communication and Liaison Services Office of the Acting National Commissioner of the SAPS.

“A woman can be arrested at any time of day or night by both male and female police officials,” says De Beer, “with or without an arrest warrant depending on the circumstances. A person may be arrested without a warrant, for example, if a serious offence has been committed in the presence of a police official, if a police officil reasonably suspects that person has committed a serious offence or if a suspect has escaped or attempted to escape from lawful custody.”

A woman who has been arrested may not refuse to accompany a police official of either gender to a police station, says De Beer, and can be charged with resisting arrest should she attempt to do so.

De Beer also points out that the concept of “all women” police stations is not practiced in South Africa but adds that a woman can only be searched by a female police official in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

De Beer requests that people ignore the e-mail and also refrain from disseminating it. “Responding to enquiries emanating from its circulation is causing a waste of the police’s time.”

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