Battle to clear ‘criminal record’

2015-08-26 11:26


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A SENIOR provincial traffic inspector, Sindisiwe Patience Ngidi, has turned to the high court in desperation to correct an error in the police criminal record system, which wrongly shows she has a criminal record for assault.

Ngidi’s problems started after an argument with her boyfriend in June 2004. She says in court papers the argument turned violent, and after her boyfriend assaulted her, she hit his vehicle with a stone on the “spur of the moment”.

He charged her with malicious injury to property and she was detained at Plessislaer police station.

However, she was released the same day after her boyfriend withdrew the complaint.

Two weeks later she appeared in court and the charge was formally withdrawn.

To her surprise, during a “routine check” by her department in 2008, she discovered a criminal record entered against her name. What shocked her most was that the records reflected she had a criminal record for assault and that she had paid an admission of guilt fine.

Ngidi reported the matter to the criminal records centre in Pietermaritzburg. After some time she was told about an internal process she had to follow to dispute the entry. She had agreed to this but heard nothing more.

She also sought the help of two superiors who promised to investigate and “sort it out”, to no avail.

Ngidi says she believes an application was lodged to “expunge” her record, but with hindsight she realises the officials did not understand that there was a mistake and that she did not have a record to expunge.

“Whenever I made inquiries to the police, they would send me from pillar to post,” she said.

Ngidi said in 2011 her police clearance certificate again returned with the same criminal record noted, and in September that year she was told not to wear her uniform pending finalisation of the issue.

“I was frustrated by this, more so because I didn’t do the crime for which I was made to suffer,” she said.

Ngidi said she later received a letter from the provincial police commissioner, addressed to her employer (the Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison), stating that the police record had been corrected.

However, the latest police clearance certificate issued in February this year again incorrectly reflects the same criminal record against her name.

“I am beginning to believe that there is a conspiracy to never remove this criminal record,” she said.

Ngidi said her chances of promotion are being prejudiced. She is currently applying for a post for which she is qualified, but fears she could be disqualified because of the incorrect entry.

The case has been enrolled for hearing on September 22.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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