General: Police searches to recover stolen property questioned

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) has expressed concern with the police raids on people’s homes in Sebokeng, near the Vaal, in pursuit of looted goods from the unrest that gripped Gauteng and KZN recently. The Star reports images of police breaking into some shacks and raiding people’s homes got many questioning the legality of the police campaign to retrieve stolen goods. Seri executive director Nomzamo Zondo said there were several problems with the raids, including that those police seemed to be targeting the poor and the marginalized.

In the raids, food items were seized, appliances, and in some cases, building material. Zondo said it was not even clear if police had a warrant to search and seize goods from people’s homes. ‘The reality is that they should get a warrant. It seems they are not sure what they are looking for; there are multiple rights that are being infringed, including the right to privacy under section 14 of the Constitution, because even after they have taken what’s yours, you don’t even know who the policeman was,’ Zondo said. She questioned why police were not raiding some homes in suburban areas that were close to Pan Africa mall. She said it was clearly a case of racial profiling and undermining the rights of the poor. ‘They are not asking for receipts because of discrimination. They won’t go to Sandton and say we want to go into your kitchen, and we are going to take the things that were taken from Pan Africa mall.’ Zondo said the visuals of the raids could be likened to the state declaring war on its poor people.

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