SAPS confirms issuing directive on arrests for use, possession of dagga
The SAPS has admitted providing an internal guideline to its members on how to proceed regarding the use and possession of dagga following last week's groundbreaking ruling by the Constitutional Court.
Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole has instructed the Hawks, all police section heads and commanders of the police training academy not to arrest anyone for the private use, cultivation or possession of cannabis, the Mail & Guardian reported on Wednesday.
The Constitutional Court last week declared invalid provisions of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act which prohibited the private possession use and cultivation of cannabis.
Netwerk24 reported that police in Limpopo have distanced themselves from an alleged official document which set the limit on how much cannabis can be cultivated or possessed privately at 3kg.
The Mail & Guardian said it had seen a directive – which had also been published on the website of the "Dagga Couple", Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, who had launched the court action – which had been sent to all police commanders and division heads at the Hawks. In the directive, the police are advised to immediately cease the arrest of people found in possession of cannabis while Parliament decides on the amount an individual may carry.
However, Sitole reminded police that the use of cannabis in a public place is still illegal.
On www.daggacouple.co.za, Stobbs and Clarke wrote: "This (3kg) figure was verified by their media officer live on the #HotboxShow, a weekly cannabis culture magazine show on YouTube. The document was sent to a number of police stations and social media pages were abuzz with the 3kg possession news.
"Some individuals rang their local police to be told the document was regarded as legit. It seemed like we’d all woken up in the promised land for a day or two.
"Now, a week since the judgment was read and the police did a 180 on the 3kg figure, a SAPS National Directive has been circulated to police stations and prosecutors countrywide. It plainly states that the use and cultivation of dagga at home is legal."
In last week’s judgment, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ordered that if an officer is unsure whether the cannabis found on a person is for private or commercial use, the officer should rather not carry out an arrest.
Officers are advised to “take into account all the relevant circumstances of a particular situation” before deciding whether or not to arrest.
“If it can be said that there is reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an offence in terms of the relevant legislation, or poses a flight risk (the police should arrest them),” Sitole wrote.
“(Police) should rather register a criminal case docket and ensure that the suspect is brought to court by means of a summons or written notice."