This is an excerpt of R2K’s advisory on the right to take photos without police harassment. See more at r2k.org.za/filmthepolice
The apartheid-era National Key Points Act makes it an offence to publish information about the security measures at a National Key Point “without being legally obliged or entitled to do so”. As vague and problematic as this is – considering, for example, the President’s chicken coops have been called a security measure – it is not a blanket ban on taking photos of National Key Points.
Standing Order 156, a directive to all SAPS members, says SAPS members may only interfere with someone recording a National Key Point if there’s “reasonable grounds to believe that the taking of photographs or the making of video recordings of such premises may aid in the planning or execution of a crime, or may jeopardise security measures”.
As flawed as this provision is, it clearly only allows members to interfere if you are taking photos of specific security measures at a site (e.g. metal detector, turnstiles, CCTV cameras) and only then if it is reasonable to suspect you are planning a crime or otherwise endangering security.
The order also states that, “if time permits”, the member should first consult the relevant SAPS media liaison office before interfering, or inform the media liaison office immediately after the fact.
The Standing Order adds that the officer “must be careful in exercising his or her discretion in this regard, since some of the national key points are also tourist attractions or places that generate media interest.”
There has been no legal challenge to the vague and possibly unconstitutional provisions of the National Key Points Act. You may therefore find yourself in a situation where the Constitution is on your side, but a still-existing apartheid security law is not. This means experiences may vary depending on the location and the officer involved.
But by understanding the confines of the Act and Standing Order 156, you should be able to stand your ground in most situations.