The police are supposed to protect the public from crime and violence, but they sometimes engage in unlawful behaviour such as corruption, brutality and torture. Holding police accountable for wrongdoing is essential.  

A comprehensive new factsheet has just been released, which helps people to understand police powers, their rights when they encounter police, and their options for reporting abuses of power by the South African Police Service. The information is the result of a partnership between the Institute for Security Studies in partnership with the African Police Oversight Forum, the C-19 People’s Coalition, Corruption Watch, the Legal Resources Centre, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute and Viewfinder.

Residents can study the factsheet to learn about the circumstances under which police may make arrests – and the rights of arrested people – as well as the conduct of police during a protest, the weapons they are permitted to use, people’s rights to record and report police brutality, and more.

Corruption Watch’s Veza tool is mentioned as a platform that allows people to report police abuse and corruption anonymously, should they be afraid of repercussions.

Download the factsheet as a PDF, or as a set of four image files below. The PDF contains clickable links to the organisations involved, to other resources such as relevant documents, guides and information that are available, and resources for reporting police corruption.

Reporting police misconduct: Below is a list of reporting options for brutality, torture and other crimes by security forces

Serious allegations against SA Police Service and Metro policeIndependent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) 012 399 0000 / complaints@ipid.gov.za
Police corruptionSAPS Anti-Corruption Internal Unit 082 828 5778
SAPS Service Complaints Centre 0800 333 177
Abuses by Metro PoliceAnti-corruption hotline for that police department
Corruption Watch0800 023 456 / www.veza.org.za
Free legal advice about violations during COVID-19 lockdown066 076 8845
Western Cape Police Ombudsman
The African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) has developed a guide to the complaints process
021 483 0669 / ombudsman@wcpo.gov.za
Crimes by SA National Defence Force membersSouth African Military Ombud
012 676 3800 / 080 726 6283 / intake@milombud.org
Illegal activity by military or traffic policeReport to nearest police station
Report incidents of torture and ill-treatmentLegal Resources Centre
011 836 9831 / lrc.org.za/stop-torture/
Public Interest Legal Services, which includes a location-specific directory of organisations to contactwww.pils.org.za/contact/