Public should question legitimacy of emails

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pretoria - The South African Police Services (SAPS) has warned members of the public to question the legitimacy of emails which are in circulation regarding the law and law enforcement.

An email which is currently doing the rounds claims that a woman has the right to refuse to go to a police station if she is not assisted by a woman officer and is not taken to an all women police station between 6pm and 6am.

The email, which is headed "Woman Arrest Law," is completely incorrect under South African law and is not applicable in this country, says the SAPS.

In a statement, the Office of the Acting National Commissioner has urged members of the community to ignore this e-mail and to refrain from disseminating it.

"Hoax e-mails are being circulated in South Africa with ever-increasing frequency, disseminating incorrect information and causing confusion which could have far-reaching effects if not disputed," it said.

The office further said that it had received numerous enquiries into the legitimacy of the email which was "causing a waste of the police's time".

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 and can be charged with resisting arrest should she attempt to do so," read the statement.

The office further said that there were no "all women" police stations in South Africa.

However, the office said it must be noted that a woman can only be searched by a female police official in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

There are also circumstances under which a search can be conducted without a warrant and there is no limit to the time of day or night when this can take place.