When a complaint is received, the Office of the Police Ombudsman first determines whether the matter is within its statutory jurisdiction. There are three limitations to the jurisdiction of the Office of the Police Ombudsman:

    • There must be a complaint.For a person’s communication to be regarded as a complaint it must express some form of grievance or an injustice suffered. As such, general enquiries or requests for advice or action will not usually be regarded as a complaint. The Act also provides that the Office of the Police Ombudsman may, of its own initiative and without a complaint, initiate an investigation into a matter in certain limited circumstances.
    • The complaint must involve a designated officer. The majority of complaints received by the Office of the Police Ombudsman concern SAPOL members who are police officers. However, the term designated officer includes other members of SAPOL, such as Police Cadets, Community Constables, Special Constables, Protective Security Officers and public servants working for SAPOL.
    • The complaint must relate to conduct. Under the Act, conduct includes the actual or purported exercise, performance or discharge of a power, function or duty by the designated officer concerned. By definition this does not cover purely private acts by officers while off duty, unless there is some ‘official’ colour to their action.