Can criminal records be cleared in South Africa? There are many factors that will determine this although the public opinion would probably be that they shouldn’t be cleared. In most cases of juvenile arrest, the record can be cleared if you were underage at the time of arrest. Committing crime is likely to affect your ability to gain employment, and a conviction is often reason enough for people to turn you away. You have a right to ask the police or your lawyer for advice in this regard. Some organisations like NICRO do aim to protect the rights of the offender as well. However, lying about your record is not legal, and is not a good idea.
If you are an offender and want someone to answer the question “can criminal records be cleared in South Africa?” the best person to ask is your lawyer. If you have a conviction for a minor offence their may be the possibility. However, in South Africa there are a number of databases and registers that were set up as part of the legislation that keep tabs on criminals so that they are limited in their employment. For example, the Children’s Act sets up a child offender’s register which prevents people who have harmed children from working with them. The Sexual Offences Act sets up a sexual offenders register to ensure that those convicted of sexual offences are not able to work with vulnerable populations. The older person’s act also has a register for those who have abused elderly people, so that they may no longer work with them. These registers are all legal and are often maintained by the police.
It is never easy to get rid of the stigma that comes with being a criminal offender. The police and employment agencies might treat you differently, but there is also a space to recognise that you may have changed. If you are concerned about your future and feel that you have been reformed through the justice system, then get legal advice from a lawyer to help you clear a criminal record if possible.