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Criminal Record Expungement South Africa


What is criminal record expungement?

Wiping a criminal record clean

Criminal record expungement South Africa: image of a gavelIf you have a criminal record, even for a minor offence, your employment chances will be affected, especially now when competition for jobs is greater than ever. But the good news is: if it’s been 10 years or more since the conviction, you can apply to have your criminal record wiped clean. This is known as “expungement”.

What is expungement of a criminal record?

Expungement of a criminal record is a legal process. You apply to the Department of Justice to remove any record of previous minor criminal offences from the criminal record database of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

This process came into effect in 2009 as a result of changes to the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1997) which made it easier for people to clear their name of a minor offence. It was designed so that the past would not be an obstacle to future employment opportunities. The Act was also intended to assist anyone convicted of apartheid-era crimes.

Are you eligible for expungement?

According to Section 217B(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act, you can apply to have your criminal record expunged if:

  • It has been 10 years since the date of your conviction (five years if you were 18 or younger at the time)
  • It was a minor offence, such as petty theft or shoplifting
  • You were not convicted of any other offence and were given the option of a fine rather than imprisonment
  • You were told that by paying a fine you would not receive a criminal record and you’ve subsequently discovered that you do have a record
  • You were fined less than R20 000
  • You received a suspended sentence
  • Your name has been removed from the National Register of Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register, if relevant

You do not qualify for criminal record expungement if:

  • It has not been 10 years since the conviction
  • Your name is either listed in or has not been removed from the National Register for Sex Offenders or the National Child Protection Register
  • You were sentenced to prison without the option of a fine
  • You received a fine of more than R20 000
  • You were convicted of a serious crime such as murder, rape other sexual offences, or a violent crime

The expungement process

  1. Obtain a clearance certificate from the Criminal Record Centre of the SAPS proving that 10 years has elapsed since your conviction. You must attach this certificate to your application.
  2. Complete the expungement application forms (Part II and Part III) and post or hand deliver them to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in Pretoria. Include the clearance certificate.
  3. If you meet the requirements set out in section 271B(1) of the Act, you will be notified in writing that your application was successful and that your crime has been expunged. You will also receive written notification if your application has been denied together with the reasons for this decision. The process usually takes about three months.

Let SD Law help you with criminal record expungement

Criminal record expungement lawyer Simon DippenaarSD Law & Associates Inc are criminal law experts. Speak to us to find out more about having your criminal record wiped clean or about any other aspect of criminal law. Call Simon on 086 099 5146 or email



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