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A crim­i­nal record is not au­to­mat­i­cally ex­punged. The onus is on the per­son who has been wrong­fully ar­rested to clear their name, says ad­vo­cate Mo­fo­keng Le­sala, a se­nior lec­turer at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Na­tal.

As soon as you are ar­rested and de­tained, your name is cap­tured on the po­lice sys­tem. “The South African Po­lice Ser­vice nor­mally keeps the crim­i­nal record on its files but there are also a num­ber of pri­vate com­pa­nies that keep it,” he says. “This means some­one’s name can be re­moved from the po­lice sys­tem but it’s likely to come up on the pri­vate com­pany’s data­base when a back­ground check is done.”

It’s not clear how these pri­vate com­pa­nies ob­tain the in­for­ma­tion but Le­sala says they don’t up­date their records reg­u­larly and so it be­comes dif­fi­cult to re­move the data.

“A court judge­ment on its own doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily help clear your name,” Le­sala warns. “You should also get a court or­der stamped by the regis­trar of the high court and send it to ev­ery com­pany that keeps crim­i­nal records.”

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