Don’t publish photos of suspected criminals on social media, says police

Police spokesman Captain Daniel Mavimebela Photo: Supplied

Members of the public shouldn’t post photos of suspected criminals on social media or the Internet.
This was the message from the police following an incident in which snapshots of CCTV footage of a
suspected car thief were distributed on social media.

“The continued reckless publishing of photographs of arrested suspects and/or wanted persons,
especially on social media can have severe consequences,” said police spokesman Captain Daniel
Mavimbela.

Mavimbela referred to a recent case in which a man was acquitted by the courts after arguing that
his conviction was based on a prejudicial identity parade since his pictures were all over social media
before the parade.

“Therefore, not only does this practice jeopardise investigation of cases, people could also end up in
prison, or with criminal records, wittingly or unwittingly,” said Mavimbela.

In the latest incident, a resident from the east of Pretoria shared snapshots on social media
platforms about a suspect who allegedly stole the resident’s laptop from his car. The suspect
allegedly works for a crime syndicate.

The resident warned shoppers to be careful when leaving their vehicles at shopping centres.
“This syndicate travels between centres and remote jams vehicles.”

Also read: Sunnyside ‘social media kidnapper’ out of bail again

“He followed me into the shop after remote jamming my vehicle. Then he turned around to take my
laptop and other valuable items from my car.”

Staff members at the shopping centre claimed the suspect lives in the Equestria area.
Mavimbela also said that sharing such photographs on the Internet and social media is against the
law.

According to the South African Police Service Act of 1995 “no person may, without the written
permission of the national or provincial commissioner, publish a photograph or sketch of a person
who is suspected of having committed an offence.”

Any person who publishes such a photograph or sketch “shall be guilty of an offence and liable on
conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.”

Should people be in possession of photographs or video clips of suspects or crime scenes, they
should rather consult with the SAPS before publishing them on the web, Mavimbela told Rekord.

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  AUTHOR
Jason Milford
Journalist

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