The legal route

Charl van Wyk’s letter, ‘A not-so-happy Heritage Day’ (2 November, pg 8) refers. Legally speaking, this is what one does in such a situation.

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  1. Ask the police officer under which law he/she is acting for the arrest. Usually the Criminal Procedure Act. That is too vague, so one needs to insist, which clause, and the number and date of act, as the officer usually takes a chance. If they can’t quote the act, number and date and clause, they do not know what is going on. Make that an issue. Say you will mention this fact in court.
  2. Ask the officer a whether case against the ‘accused’ has been registered. Ask for the case number and at which police station it is registered. Does it have an Occurrence Book (OB) number, Incident Report (IR) number or where is it in the records, where is it on the computer? Tell them you need it to give to your legal representative. In fact, if you so desire to represent yourself, ask for copy of their (accuser’s) statement. 
  3. Ask the officers whether you are going to sign a Warning Statement or a Witness Statement? You can decline. If you are going to sign a Witness Statement and you mention you pointed, discharged a gun and/or shot someone, they (the police) cannot charge you, as it is in your Witness Statement which you signed. If you mention in a Warning Statement that you pointed, discharged and/or shot someone, then you will be charged and arrested. Don’t mention any facts in the Warning Statement, only sign it. Get legal advice before you do. Maintain your right to phone a lawyer. In Mrs Peake’s case, she only produced a firearm, and only used it to ward off a violent attack. When the attack was over she returned her firearm to her holster. She was NOT going to shoot her attackers, unless things got out of hand; the threat coming from the attackers.
  4. She should have got to the police station before her attackers did, and insisted on registering an incident, or getting a case registered. She had 24 hours to register or report the incident, so the police officer should have given her that time, and not acted in haste, as was the case.
  5. Use your cellphone’s camera to take photos of your attacker so as to record their behaviour. And if that is not done, take photos of the police officer when he/she becomes unruly. 
  6. Mrs Peake could have said, “I acted within my rights, I have rights. I am not co-operating and not going with you and not allowing myself to be arrested.”

A not-so-happy heritage day