Community urged to clear criminal records

Photo: supplied Vigie Padayachee (left) with the members of the Freedoms South Africa and its founder Wayne Jean-Pierre (right).
Photo: supplied Vigie Padayachee (left) with the members of the Freedoms South Africa and its founder Wayne Jean-Pierre (right).

THE Tongaat Central Library in partnership with Freedoms South Africa hosted the clearance criminal records campaign at the library recently.

The intention was to equip people who have bad criminal records with knowledge on how to clear their names.

Members of Freedoms South Africa are spearheading the programme.

The founder of the organisation Wayne Jean-Pierre said having a bad criminal record motivated him to start the organisation in 2013 that dealt specifically with matters pertaining to people who have bad criminal records.

“I first made an application to have my name cleared as I had a criminal record that was attached on my name since the days of apartheid. When I succeeded in clearing my name, I realised that it was crucial to start an organisation that will represent people with bad criminal records.

“Our flagship programme deals with prevention, giving hope to people, families and communities. It is about restoring the dignity of people who have come in conflict with the law by creating an opportunity for them to become employable in the formal sector. The programme hopes to create safer communities where ex-offenders can positively contribute to community development. We educate the youth on the consequences of coming in conflict with the law.”

The interested individuals willing to apply must first fill the application for a police clearance certificate from a nearest police station.

“We run one-on-one consultations with people who have criminal records. We are then able to ascertain when a person qualifies to have the previous criminal records cleared. These sessions assist ex-offenders to better understand the options available and give them hope.

“The applicant will need R96 and an identity document to make an application at any nearest police station. The police clearance certificate has all the records registered against you in South Africa. The waiting period for a police clearance certificate is normally six to eight weeks. Since May 2009 the amendment to section 271 of the Criminal Procedures Act (65 of 2008) created the mechanism for the expungement of certain minor criminal records.”

Pierre said since the inception of the programme they have assisted people with minor offences ranging from common assault, theft, possession of drugs, drunk and driving and contempt of court.

“Some applications that stand out for me include assisting a 90-year-old man who asked to be cleared as to allow his children and grandchildren to bury him as a free person and not a criminal. Second was the application of a grandfather with a record for stealing a piece of cheese. Our programme is not funded and we would to be able to reach and service more people with assistance from business, communities and faith-based groups.”

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