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Cops say they acted ‘reasonably' in arrest of Hillbrow girl

Teen nabbed for ‘looking like a foreign national'

A 15-year-old child was wrongly detained by Hilbrow police in Johannesburg after she could not prove that she was not an illegal alien
A 15-year-old child was wrongly detained by Hilbrow police in Johannesburg after she could not prove that she was not an illegal alien

Gauteng police say they acted on “reasonable grounds” when they arrested a 15-year-old girl on suspicion that she was an illegal immigrant.

The teenager from Hillbrow in Johannesburg, who was held in police holding cells a week ago for failing to produce an ID to prove she was not an illegal foreigner, related her ordeal to Sowetan on Sunday.

Gauteng police spokesperson Col Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said the police acted on reasonable grounds when they took the teen into custody as they were permitted by the law to do so. 

“Section 41 of the Immigration Act requires any person approached on reasonable grounds by a police officer or immigration officer to identify themselves either as a citizen or as a person lawfully present in the Republic,” Nevhuhulwi said. 

“The police acted on that basis. The person in question was stopped and requested to be searched and identify themselves, and she was allegedly not cooperative hence she was taken to the police station.” 

Nevhuhulwi said if the teenager believed that she was not treated fairly by the police, she could lay a formal complaint with the district commissioner or the Gauteng Service Complaints. Alternatively, the matter could also be reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

The teenager was arrested more than a week ago while walking from the shops and spent an hour behind bars at Hillbrow police station before her father came with her birth certificate to prove she was South African.

She said police would not allow her to call her parents and her pleas that she was a minor and did not have an ID were ignored.

The SA Human Rights Commission, which is now investigating the matter, said in terms of the Immigration Act and Criminal Procedure Act, police can ask for documentation but that the commission was concerned about the application of the law in this case.


The grade 9 pupil told Sowetan a group of female officers demanded to search her without giving her any explanation. During the search, she said one of the officers touched her inappropriately and when she pushed her away, she was accused of having an attitude.


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