Police Accountability Factsheet LOGOSThe 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.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) together with SERI and other partner organisations including the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF), Viewfinder, Corruption Watch, and the Anti-Repression Working Group of the C-19 People's Coalition, have developed a factsheet on police accountability to commemorate Youth Day.

This factsheet has combined content from all the partner organisations, and aims to create a centralised knowledge bank with information on police accountability. This factsheet has been developed to help members of the public understand police powers, their rights when encountering police, and their options for reporting abuses of power by the South African Police Service (SAPS). 

The factsheet contains information about:

  • When police can make arrests;
  • The rights of arrested persons;
  • What happens during an arrest;
  • Police responses during protests;
  • When police can use force;
  • What weapons police can use;
  • Explanations of torture and police corruption;
  • Recording and reporting abuse by police; and
  • Additional information about police brutality.
  • Download the full factsheet here.

Police accountability factsheet ENGLISH

COIDA factsheet


Domestic workers are now covered by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA). This law provides for the payment of compensation to employees who suffer injuries or contract diseases while performing their work duties through the Compensation Fund. In the case of a death as a result of a work-related injury or disease, the Fund allows for compensation to the deceased employee’s dependents. This factsheet details the four main types of compensation payments under COIDA and explains how domestic workers can claim from the compensation fund. 

Similar to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), it is the responsibility of employers to register their employees and make contributions to the Compensation Fund once a month. Please see this notice for more information about how employers can register employees.

  • Download the full factsheet here

On Sunday, SERI made a submission to the Department of Human Settlements on the Rental Housing Tribunal Regulations. On 1 April 2021, the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, published the Rental Housing Tribunal Regulations, 2018 for public comment.  The regulations seek to standardise processes and procedures in the proceedings of the Rental Housing Tribunals. SERI has read and considered the draft regulations and makes this submission to the Department of Human Settlements in accordance with the invitation to submit written comments.  

 SERI’s submission provides background to the organisation and its work, contextualises the affordable rental sector, comments on the content of the draft regulations, and makes recommendations in relation to each concern.  SERI welcomes these regulations which aim to give effect to the commencement of the Rental Housing Act 35 of 2014.The act required that the Minister issue regulations on the norms and standards, the procedures of the Tribunal and its appellate body and the unfair practice regulations within a year of the commencement of the amendment. We recognise the role of the regulations as one of the legislative measures that the state has taken to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to have access to adequate housing. 

However, SERI has highlighted a number of concerns with the department’s draft regulations. They include: 

  • Undefined terms and concepts
  • Mediation
  • Formalisation
  • Urgent Process
  • Deterrent cost 
  • Norms and Standards
  • Unfair Practice Regulations

The submission provides specific recommendations for each concern. Overall, SERI welcomes the formulation of these Regulations, but remains concerned that the tightening of procedures for an institution of the Tribunal’s calibre could serve to exclude a class of people that it was designed to protect. A very great risk is that the institution becomes accessible to the few. The rental housing policy framework and a complete set of norms and standards are pre-requisites for mitigating the discrimination risk. 

Access the full submission here

Masiangoako Tshehlo Afrika.no police violenceEarlier this year, the Norwegian Council for Africa's online publication Afrika.no published an article entitled ‘State violence in South Africa’ written by SERI researcher Thato Masiangoako and candidate attorney Tebogo Tshehlo. The original article was translated into Norwegian.

The article discusses why police violence remains an uncontrolled problem more than 26 years into democracy. Masiangoako and Tshehlo look at the experiences of clients that SERI has worked with including the cases of the Marikana massacre, the 2015/16 #FeesMustFall student protests, and the community protests in Thembelihle – an informal settlement in the south of Johannesburg.

Masiangoako and Tshehlo argue that:

“These examples and many others demonstrate the extent to which policing in South Africa has failed to transform in nature and in its treatment of poor, black people and have highlighted the dangerous role that the police have come to play in suppressing popular movements that have been especially critical of the government and have been deemed as a threat to the social, economic and political status quo in South Africa. They also demonstrate a failure, on the part of the South African state, to constrain excessive use of force by the police and sufficiently rid the police of older patterns of violence that date back to South Africa’s history of apartheid and colonial rule.”


  • Access the full article here.

Masiangoako Rayner Rubber bullets Maverick CitizenOn 31 May 2021, the Maverick Citizen published an op-ed by SERI researcher Thato Masiangoako and Dr Mary Rayner entitled, 'Rubber bullets: Banning them is not impossible — it’s imperative'. 

The op-ed argues that government urgently needs to fully implement the recommendations of the Panel of Experts Report on Policing and Crowd Management and align the provisions of the SAPS Amendment Bill with the report. 

The op-ed also responds to a comment by the National Commissioner of Police Khehla Sitole's at the press conference for the release of the report, that “it will be impossible to stop the use of rubber bullets”. Drawing from local and international evidence, Masiangoako and Rayner discuss the inherent risks arising of police frequent use of the 12-gauge shotguns which fire two rubber bullets in rapid sequence, also known as kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs). They write, "Multiple-projectile KIPs can be lethal when fired at close range and if aimed above the waist area... However, when used at greater distances, these weapons are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate due to the lack of control over the direction of the bullets fired."

Masiangoako and Rayner, conclude that "Whether participating in a protest or being a bystander, people should not have to fear that they will be gravely injured or killed by police because of a failure to ensure that, at the very least, the weapons used are appropriate for public order situations."

  • Read the full op-ed here.

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