Assembly approves bill on use of force

2012-05-23 22:05

Cape Town - The National Assembly approved the Criminal Procedure Act amendment bill on Wednesday without dissent.

The bill provides guidelines on why and how force, and deadly force, may be used to carry out an arrest.

In a declaration of vote, Dene Smuts of the Democratic Alliance said Parliament had passed a "new and perfectly constitutional" section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act in 1998.

The old section 49 provided that killing someone suspected of having committed a Schedule One offence - which included treason, sedition, public violence, murder, culpable homicide, and rape - would constitute justifiable homicide if the person could not be arrested or prevented from fleeing in any other way.

However, the new section 49 did not commence for five years because the SA Police Service (SAPS) had problems interpreting it.

"In fairness, legal scholars also said it was difficult to interpret," Smuts said.

The Supreme Court of Appeal and then the Constitutional Court, in 2001 and 2002 respectively, ruled on the old section 49.

"Judge [Johann] Kriegler, for a unanimous Constitutional Court, took the trouble in State v Walters to tabulate in plain terms when, why, and how force and deadly force may be used to effect arrest.

"This amendment draws on those guidelines for the sake of legal certainty," she said.

The bill was a true reflection of the Kriegler judgment for the Constitutional Court and was in part verbatim.

"Force must always be reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances, and deadly force, including shooting, may in addition be used only if the suspect poses a threat of serious violence to the arrester or another person or persons; or if the suspect is reasonably suspected of having committed a crime involving serious bodily harm, and there are no other reasonable means of arresting him at that time or later," she said.

It was necessary to remember that the purpose of arrest was to bring a suspect before court for trial, that the arrest was not the only means of achieving that purpose, nor always the best, and that arrest could never be used to punish a suspect.

"That is what the judge said, and that is what we therefore need our police, and ourselves, to observe," Smuts said.

The bill was supported by all sides of the House and now goes to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

  • wikus.schalkwyk - 2012-05-23 22:23

    Lets see how this goes down... how many understand it... able to implement..

  • prince.aneke - 2012-05-23 22:38

    YHO! now dey r gvn police an allowance to kill innocent ppl

      randomhero6661 - 2012-05-24 10:14

      stay away from the poop tube bruva!

  • DrCyanide - 2012-05-23 22:39

    you are not the only one thats slightly worried about this.

  • susan.ettmayr - 2012-05-23 23:17

    Can I have this in plain English? Thank you Wikus.Schalkwyk. I thought I was being dof

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-05-24 01:43

    Blah blah blah..who knows what they are talking about!? Nevertheless the criminal is royal game...protected to the extent that if you shoot the sumbitch you are in serious sh*t!! But he can shoot / kill you and get away with it!! HORSESH*T!!!!!!!

  • thando.ramncwana - 2012-05-24 01:56

    Too late for the poor taxi driver that was nearly assaulted to death for 'resisting arrest'......

  • Ted - 2012-05-24 03:13

    Hallelujah! The death sentence is back! Now we can kill them before they can get a mere life sentence.

  • Fhedzani Sadiki - 2012-05-24 07:23

    Thank you.

  • Koos - 2012-05-24 07:38

    They call this extract easy to interpret? Pfff lawyers, always looking to make more money!

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