Let’s face it, finding a job in South Africa (and overseas) is extremely difficult, and it becomes near impossible to do so if you have a criminal record. Remember, it is well within employers’ rights to ask for the disclosure of any criminal history, and it certainly impacts chances of even being invited for an initial interview.

According to screening company Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), more and more companies are conducting background checks on potential employees; in fact, it’s grown by 6.77% in just the last five years. More specifically, the company says that criminal record screening remains the most frequently requested check by its clients, and in 2017 alone, it conducted over 700,000 criminal checks, of which 9.91% were found to have a criminal or pending criminal record.

In 2009, the South African Justice Department passed a law to help those convicted of a crime, reintegrate into everyday living after they paid their debt to society by completing a prison sentence.  Essentially, this law clears the person in question’s name.

Legally referred to as “expungement”, it means that a person’s name and the crime they committed is removed from the National Criminal Register.

How Do I Qualify for Getting my Criminal Record Cleared?

  • A decade (10 years) must have passed after the date of your initial conviction
  • You received a sentence of periodical imprisonment or correctional supervision and not a direct prison sentence for your crime.
  • You haven’t been convicted of any other crime during the ten years that lapsed after the first conviction.
  • You were sentenced for one of the following lesser crimes: minor charges of theft, assault, fraud, etc.)
  • You were sentenced to pay a fine that doesn’t exceed R20 000.

Unfortunately, You Won’t Qualify for Clearance if:

  • You were found guilty and convicted of a sexual offence against a child or disabled person.
  • Your name is on the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register. If you name is removed, you will, however, qualify.
  • You were convicted of a serious crime (robbery, rape, murder or assault with the intention of doing grievous bodily harm) without the option of paying a fine.For more information, check out the official Application for Expungement of a Criminal Record

Things to Have in Order Before Submitting an Application for Expungement

  • Be sure to obtain a clearance certificate from the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service that confirms ten years have passed.  The certificate must be attached to your application.
  • If you were included in the National Register for Sex Offenders, you must get confirmation from the Registrar that your name has been removed from the list.  Again, proof must be sent with your expungement application.
  • Similarly, if your name is on the National Child Protection Register, it’s removal must be confirmed by the Director-General: Social Development. The authorisation or a certified true copy of the confirmation must be attached to your application.

You must then send all the relevant documents to the Director-General: Justice and Constitutional Development in Pretoria.  If he/she believes that you meet the requirements, the Head of the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service will let you know in writing whether or not you have successfully been cleared and your criminal record has been expunged.

How Much Does this Process Cost?

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development offers this as a free service, but there are a number of businesses that can assist you for a fee, of course. Moreover, a lawyer can also be hired for guidance at your own expense.

Get Legal Assistance to Help Clear Your Name

LAW FOR ALL’s team of legal experts are ready to advise and guide you to clear your name.  For more information on our affordable and comprehensive legal services products, feel free to have a look at our policies.