A man from Zwartkop, Centurion, who had a “criminal record” for the past 20 years, of which he only became aware through a personnel agency, is claiming R4 million in damages from the Minister of Police for his failure to find a job and for the humiliation he had suffered.
The Pretoria High Court also ordered this week that the minister had to, within 21 days, see to it that the name of Eliza Marthinus Lotz is removed from the criminal record system.
Lotz stated in court papers that he only discovered he had “a criminal record for reckless or negligent driving” after he was turned down for a job and the personnel agency told him it was because of his ”criminal record”.
According to police records, he was convicted of this crime in 1991.
Lotz said he does not have a criminal record as he had never been charged with or convicted of any crime.
He told the police to rectify their records, but apart from saying they were working on the problem, nothing had been done.
“In spite of numerous requests, the police are refusing to rectify this. The effect of this is that the credit bureaus also refused to rectify their records as their information comes from the criminal records centre,” he said.
Lotz stated that he qualified as a gunsmith in 1993 after leaving school. Over the years he was employed at various businesses, which mostly closed down.
He also tried to set up his own businesses, which mostly failed, and he battled to obtain a decent job.
Since 1991 his details were at various personnel agencies, but his applications were always turned down but no reasons were given to him, he said.
This was until he was told in 2005 that it was because he had “a criminal record”.
Lotz said apart from the fact that this tainted his good name and reputation, it has also had – for the past 20 years – a grave influence on his career path.
“This defamation is continuing because the police refuse to rectify the situation.”
Lotz is claiming R1 million for his reputation, which he said had been tainted.
In a further claim, he is suing the police for R3 million in damages due to a loss of income as he had failed to find a decent job.
Lotz stated that as a child he had big dreams of one day becoming a pilot or ”one of the best soldiers in the country”.
At school he studied in a technical field and he believed that he could realise his dreams one day by “making a plan himself”, he said. This was, however, shattered by his “criminal record”.
“Throughout my life no personnel agency assisted me in finding a decent job. I always had to make do with a non-sustainable job.
“As my father, who worked himself up from being a cashier to a top manager at Absa, I also had a dream to work myself up from nothing to something at a stable company.”
Lotz said before he learned about his “criminal record”, he had for 15 years prior to that no idea why he could not get a decent job.
He is now pinning his hopes, “armed with his clean record”, on finding a decent job.
This is so he can afford a house, obtain a pension and build a life for himself, as “most people of his age group have already done”.
“Due to someone else’s negligence, I now have a backlog in life. The knowledge that I had ‘a criminal record’ broke down my self-esteem. It also caused me not to want to go for interviews, as I knew I would not get the job.”
Lotz said he wanted to “become someone” in life and take care of his daughter, so she would have a better life.
The court ordered that his name must be removed from the criminal records system, but his claim for damages was postponed indefinitely.