Arden Bosman was arrested for recruiting for the ANC and charged with treason, before serving time on Robben Island.
“All that I want is to acquire a certificate as a security guard, but the 1979 criminal record stands between me and my dream,” he said.
Bosman was convicted in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court in 1979 under the Internal Security Act of 1977 and section 6 of the Terrorism Act.
He has been begging the department for years to expunge it but said his pleas were being ignored.
“I was convicted for undergoing military training in Lesotho (in 1977) and for recruiting African youth to join a banned organisation, the ANC, and for working toward the overthrow of the apartheid government.
“I was arrested in my home in Dube Village, Soweto, upon my return from Lesotho in April 1978 by the then special security branch of the then John Vorster Square. After I was convicted, I was sent to Robben Island, where I spent almost two years of the five-year sentence,” Bosman said.
He said he was released in May 1982 after a successful appeal of the conviction and sentence.
Bosman, 54, said that after his release, he struggled to find work and eventually got a big break in 2013 after the ANC offered him and a group of other former activists a chance to train as peace officers with Metrorail.
“This was in line with the provisions of the Military Veterans Act. I remained loyal to the Struggle until the dawn of South Africa. However, having dedicated my entire youth to the realisation of freedom has marginalised, tormented, humiliated and further persecuted me.
“To be appointed as a peace officer one must comply with the Psira Act (Private Security Industry Regulation Act), and because of fighting for freedom, the above-mentioned case hangs like a noose around my neck. I have been struggling to have it removed and have been told that I should get a presidential pardon,” said Bosman.
The Department of Justice failed to respond to questions sent to spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga on January 24. Last week, the department's officials made promises to respond but did not.
Bosman questioned why other freedom fighters, such as retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who was also convicted for participating in political activity opposed to the apartheid regime, were able to find work without problems.
Moseneke was sentenced to 10 yearsi imprisonment, which he served on Robben Island.
“I have done nothing but fight for freedom like Mandela and the others.
He said that although he was currently employed at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, he was still an unqualified security officer, which placed his job security at risk.
“My youngest child is going to do his matric next year. How will he further his studies if I do not work?
“I want to be able to provide for my family like any other man and have been pleading for help, but officials from the Department of Justice send me from pillar to post,” Bosman said.
He said he failed to “understand why such politically motivated crimes are still being retained in the criminal record database”.
“Does the democratic government we fought for criminalise me for having served the people of South Africa? This criminal record hangs like a rope suffocating any prospect to provide for my family,” Bosman said.@smashaba