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10. IF THE POLICE HAVE A WARRANT TO SEARCH MY HOUSE, CAN THEY SEARCH ELSEWHERE ?

No. Because a search of a person’s property is an invasion of privacy, the police may in normal circumstances only act in accordance with the authorisation granted by a search warrant. A valid search warrant must be detailed with regards to:

  • Who may execute the warrant;
  • Where may be searched;
  • What articles may be seized.

The validity of a search warrant must be examined keeping in mind the high value placed on the subject's right to privacy and property. The terms of a search warrant are to be construed with reasonable strictness, and it should ordinarily be read on the terms in which it is expressed.1

A police official executing a search warrant must, after such execution, upon demand of any affected person, hand to him a copy of the warrant.

In the event that a person is charged on the strength of evidence illegally found without a warrant or with a faulty warrant, a court has a discretion to still allow the evidence to be used if it is in the interest of justice. Normally a court will not exclude evidence merely because of a formal defect on a warrant.

It is also important to note that a search warrant may only be executed during the day, unless night execution is expressly authorised on the warrant.2

1 Toich v The Magistrate, Riversdale & others 2007 (2) SACR 235 (C)

2 Sec 21(3) CPA

 

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