n Southern African Public Law - A critique of search and seizure in terms of a search warrant in South African criminal procedure

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2219-6412


The requirements and safeguards for a valid search warrant in South African criminal procedure are critically analysed in this article. The existence of safeguards to regulate the way in which law enforcement officials may enter the private sphere of ordinary citizens is one of the features that distinguish a constitutional democracy from a police state. South African experience has been notoriously varied in this regard. Many generations of systemised and egregious violations of personal privacy established norms for citizens that seeped generally into the public administration and promoted amongst a great many officials habits and practices inconsistent with the standard of conduct now required by the Bill of Rights. Today, law enforcement officials must be highly skilled in the use of investigative tools and extremely knowledgeable about the intricacies of the law. One error in judgment during initial contact with a suspect can, and often does, impede the investigation and could affect the fairness of the trial. For example, an illegal search may so contaminate evidence obtained that it will not be admitted as evidence in court. In addition to losing evidence for prosecution purposes, failing to comply with constitutional mandates often leads to liability on the part of the law enforcement official.

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