Law enforcement members such as officers or officials of the South African Police Service (SAPS) or Metro Police is not allowed to arrest a person or just take a person into custody whenever they feel like it- they must have probable cause to make an arrest.
Probable cause is a conformable indication that a crime has already been committed, or that a crime is about to be committed. Without this probable cause, an arrest of a citizen may be considered to unlawful.
Common examples of unlawful arrests include:
- Arrests of the wrong person;
- Arrests that occur after planting false evidence;
- Arrests of a person without probable cause that a person committed a crime;
- Arrests for personal gain;
- Arrests due to a vindictive police officer;
- Arrests due to racial profiling;
- Arrests due to a citizen's vicinity of a crime;
- Arrests based on pure malice.
The manner in which a person is arrested and in which an arrest is executed, may also give rise to an unlawful or wrongful arrest claim.
- excessive use of force;
- improper or illegal search;
- police brutality;
- prison injury during which a person is detained;
- sexual abuse.