The SA Police operating in Durban recently warned Facebook users that posting the location of roadblocks on the platform could land them in trouble.
Police spokesperson Captain Raymond Deokaran said people posting messages warning others of roadblocks could be charged with defeating the ends of justice if caught.
“This does not solve the problem, it lets people know about roadblocks and encourages some potentially-dangerous drivers to get behind the wheel,” he said.
While the chances of an individual being successfully prosecuted for this are low, people should not take to Facebook to share roadblock information with their friends, said Justice Project South Africa chairman Howard Dembovsky.
“Decided cases have already proven that in order for prosecution for this charge to succeed, the person disseminating the information would need to be objectively aware that the person or persons he or she is warning is/are in fact committing the crime,” he said.
“This has proven to be virtually impossible in the past.”
Despite this, Dembovsky said he is not a fan of people who warn others about certain police operations – particularly those designed to detect criminals and unroadworthy vehicles.
“There is a huge difference between traffic officials who hide in the bushes to photograph those who disobey the speed limit and law enforcement operations intended to detect and take unfit drivers off the road.”
Dembovsky said there are also more effective ways to deal with drunk drivers and unroadworthy vehicles.
“This involves saturating areas where people who have been drinking would be likely to be driving with patrols, pulling those who exhibit the slightest sign of being under the influence of an intoxicating substance over and checking them out.”
“They also have the effect of detecting other moving violations and dealing with them.”
“My view is that instead of having hissy fits about people warning others about roadblocks, law enforcement officials should at least try to go out and look for offenders, instead of waiting for them to come to them.”