Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, has tabled a Bill that would allow for the expungement of criminal records of people who were convicted of breaking lockdown regulations during Covid-19.
Thousands of people were arrested by the police and other law enforcement agencies for violating restrictions imposed during the national State of Disaster.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced a number of restrictions after the lockdown was implemented in March 2020.
The people who fell foul of the law were convicted.
Lamola has now tabled amendments to the Judicial Matters Bill that would allow for the expungement of criminal records related to Covid-19 measures.
He said the bill was now before the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, which will then process it.
Lamola was replying to a written parliamentary question from IFP MP Prof. Themba Msimang on this matter.
“The proposed new section 57D (convictions and sentences in respect of admission of guilt fines relating to offences in terms of regulations made in terms of section 27(2) of Disaster Management Act, 2002), specifically provides that ‘criminal record of a person which contain the conviction and sentence of a person who is deemed to have been convicted and sentenced by a court as contemplated in section 57(6) of this Act, in respect of a specified offence; or (b) appeared in court in terms of a summons or written notice referred to in section…is hereby expunged.”
This takes effect on the day that the sentence was imposed by the court.
“The objective of the amendment is also to provide for automatic expungement of the criminal record,” Lamola said.
“In the event that that is not the case, the amendment provides for submission of a written application to assist any person in achieving the expungement automatically by the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service,” he said.
“The automatic expungements will take effect once the Bill is assented to and signed into an Act of Parliament.”
Police Minister Bheki Cele had said two years ago tens of thousands of people had been arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions.
Some of the cases ended up in where the accused were convicted.