The South African Criminal Record Centre is the place where all information about anyone in South Africa who has a criminal record is kept. If you are an employer and need to perform a background check before you hire someone, then this is an excellent place to start. It is important to note however, that the South African justice system is extremely slow in processing cases, so your prospective employee might be up for crimes in SA but not yet prosecuted. This won’t necessarily be in the public records yet, but it could appear in police clearance applications. If you need to do a scan of someone’s past, the police are a good place to start.
Some difficulty can arise in accessing a background check from the South African Criminal Record Center. When people lay a charge against someone for crimes in SA, the docket is saved under the victim’s name rather than the accused name. This means that police dockets are not always stored under the name of the criminal. You are entitled by some South African law and policy to ask police about information relating to your own rights, but they might not understand when you approach them for police clearance applications. It essentially comes down to the conditions and consciousness of the person on duty that day.
In the 2009/2010 period there were over 2 million reported crimes in South Africa. Many of these cases will not be heard for many years and a background check will thus not be useful. If you need to find out about your prospective employees, it is a good idea to shortlist them first so that you only have to go through the procedure with a few names. You can also encourage applicants to complete police clearance applications to save you some trouble.