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COURT CALLS ON POLICE TO RETURN ILLEGALLY SEIZED ALCOHOL PRODUCTS


Owner of the pub named Padstal in Pretoria approached The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria after Police illegally and unlawfully confiscated a huge amount of alcohol.

The courts handed down the judgment that the Police must return the booze to the famous pub within 48 hours.

According to the judgment by Judge Colleen Collis, police arrested an employee of Padstal on 15 July for allegedly contravening the Disaster Management Act regulations in Stage 3, as it's alleged that the employee sold or distributed two bottles of brandy to an unknown person.

The police foiled the alleged transaction following in the police seizing the two bottles and charging the employee - these charges were still pending.

Afterwards the police entered Padstal without a warrant, and on their search of the storeroom situated in the back of the restaurant they seized the entire liquor stock.

The owners stated to the court that the stock never formed part of any alleged contravention of any regulations.

As police confiscated the alcohol, it was reported that they refused to furnish a detailed list of the liquor that was seized as well as providing the owner the legal grounds on which the alcohol was seized.

Judge Collis stated in her judgment that; "Notwithstanding, subsequently, requests directed by the applicants' attorney to the respondent [police] to account for the whereabouts of the seized goods and the amount of alcohol so seized, and for the applicant's property to be returned, the respondents neglected and has failed to answer to and/or adhere to such requests."

Police defended their actions by first arguing that the property was seized without a warrant due to the virtue of the alleged contravention by the employee, as well as arguing that they were entitled to confiscate the stock if there were reasonable grounds to be concerned whether it would be used in the commission of a crime.

Collis declared that police had failed to explain as to what alleged transgression the owners committed to justify the unlawful seizure on the owners property.  

"In addition to this, it is further common cause that, to date, the applicant has not been charged with any offence which will justify the seizure of her property in terms of section 20 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Act," Judge Collis added.

Collis therefore declared that the warrant-less search and seizure that was conducted by police was unlawful and therefore invalid. Judge Collis has ordered the police to return the alcohol taken, back to the owners, and declared the station commander of the Silverton police station and the national commissioner will be responsible and must pay the costs of the application.


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