- You have to have seen the crime being committed or have REASONABLE and JUSTIFIABLE belief that the suspect committed the crime. You do not want to be in a situation where you are held for unlawful arrest
- Be careful! If you confront a suspect, firstly be safe, you do not know what that suspect has done in his life. He may have killed several people and may be willing to kill you to escape. Inform the suspect that he/she is under arrest. They must lie down, arms and legs apart and not move. Get the Police or a Security official to the scene as quickly as possible. Criminals seldom work on their own. If you are alone, you may be outnumbered and get into danger.
- Be aware of excessive force! Use the force necessary to affect the arrest, and then stop immediately. Make sure to not cut off blood supply when tying his/her hands. This can get you into real trouble in a civil case.
- Do NOT manipulate the crime scene. It is important to remember to remain within the law at all times. Hand the suspect over to SAPS as soon as possible, and do not try to tell police officials how to do their jobs (this can happen when you are pumped full of adrenaline).
A Citizens Arrest
Every South African Citizen has the right to live in a crime free community. We also have a right to assist in keeping our communities safe, by making use of a ‘Citizens Arrest’.
What is a Citizen Arrest?
Any South African citizen may execute an arrest for "any conspiracy, incitement, or attempt to commit any offense", pertaining to any Schedule 1 offense, as determined by THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURES ACT OF 1977, Act 51, and THE CRIMINAL LAW AMENDMENT ACT OF 2007, Section 3 and 4.
This arrest essentially does not require a warrant in order for it to be effective.
“Arrest” is defined under the Criminal Procedure Act (51 of 1977) section 39 and 40 as a method of securing a person, reasonably suspected of having committed a crime. It is not punishment; it is not means for you to kick someone’s head in.
The main thing to remember is to FORGET what you see on US television. ‘Miranda Rights’ do not apply in SA. You do not have to read them to the suspect. What you do have to do is to explain to the suspect why you have detained them. Another thing to remember is: MINIMUM FORCE NECESSARY. This outlines that the person making the arrest cannot use excessive force, in relation to what the suspect is showing. In an extreme example; you cannot shoot a suspect if he is throwing stones at you.
These are a few rules to follow when affecting Citizens Arrest:
SOME SCHEDULE ONE OFFENCES
1. House breaking
2. Malicious injury to property
3. Robbery (Hijacking, mugging)
7. Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH)
8. Indecent Assault
9. Any attempt at one of the above
Whereas it is comforting to know that we all have this right, you need to be made aware of the weight it bears. One wrong move and you could be in as much trouble as the suspect!