Streaming issues? Report here
Africa Melane 2019 1500 BW
Weekend Breakfast with Africa
06:00 - 10:00

Up Next: CapeTalk Classics with Sara-Jayne King
See full line-up
Weekend Breakfast with Africa
06:00 - 10:00

What you need to know about getting your criminal record cleared #ConsumerTalk

3 July 2019 3:35 PM
Criminal record
Expunge criminal records
Police employees with criminal records
CapeTalk listener Joaan M says she's unhappy with the service received from criminal record removal firm Fresh Start Law Centre

The chances are we've all done things in our past that we're not proud of and wouldn't do again. That's life, right?

But what if the things you did when you were younger continued to have a direct impact on your life today?

For people with a criminal record, it can be that the decisions they make are governed by their actions in the past.

Travel plans, job opportunities, living arrangements can all be affected by a previous conviction.

But, did you know it IS possible for those with a criminal record to have it expunged, so long as they meet certain requirements.

The Criminal Procedure Amendment Act allows for those convicted of a minor offence, 10 or more years ago, to qualify for the expungement of their criminal records where the sentence was a suspended jail term, correctional supervision or a fine.

Throughout the country, there are companies who, for a fee, will do the legwork on behalf of those who want their records cleared.

CapeTalk listener Joaan M got in touch with one of them, Fresh Start Law Centre, for help in clearing her record for "something very stupid' she did 20 years ago.

The company claims to be SA’s leading criminal record removal firm, and the only one with dedicated consultants in the Department of Justice in Pretoria.

Joaan is a neo-natal nurse and in December last year, she was offered a nursing job in England for which she needed a police clearance.

But after enlisting the help of Fresh Start and paying R5,400 for the service to be fast-tracked, she was left feeling very dissatisfied with the service and contacted consumer journalist Wendy Knowler for help.

Among the promises on its website are the following: "We constantly track and monitor your progress 24/7. Clients are immediately notified by a case manager at each and every stage. We have a 99.95% success rate, and a money back guarantee.”

But that wasn't Joan's experience.

RELATED: Why you should ALWAYS read the Ts and Cs - #ConsumerTalk

RELATED: What's the real deal with 'non-refundable' deposits?

After being told by the company that the expungement would be ready by 28 May Joaan rented out her house in Durban, sold her furniture, cancelled her medical aid and prepared to leave for the UK.

But to this day she is still waiting for the expungement certificate.

I had a look on consumer complaints website HelloPeter when I found more than 160 complaints about Fresh Start, many of them fresh. Most allege that once you’ve paid your money for the service, communication dries up.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

The CEO of Fresh Start, gave the following response when he joined Wendy Knowler on CapeTalk's Lunch with Pippa show on Wednesday.

At no point does Fresh Start Law Centre guarantee we can remove criminal records as each case is unique. Furthermore, the client is provided with a quotation detailing the entire service and timelines – to which the client accepted and paid (the line items were carried forward within the invoice attached). Plus the client accepted the terms of service which further details the exact process to be followed.

Ansar Sykes, CEO - Fresh Start Law Centre

Sykes says Joaan's case is at the final part of the first process, awaiting sign-off by the director-general.

Listen to the full interview below:

3 July 2019 3:35 PM
Criminal record
Expunge criminal records
Police employees with criminal records

More from ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

Beware the 'email invoice hacking scam'! – Wendy Knowler (consumer journalist)

9 September 2019 2:28 PM

If you ever send an invoice (or pay after receiving one); you may want to check this out. Especially property buyers and sellers.

Read More arrow_forward

Fixed municipal water charge is here to stay, explains City of Cape Town

4 September 2019 4:44 PM

Why are Capetonians still facing a fixed water charge? And has the price of prepaid electricity gone up? Municipal FAQs answered.

Read More arrow_forward

FNB illegally takes consumer’s silence as an agreement

29 August 2019 8:46 PM

Have a credit card with FNB? You may want to check this out, warns consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Read More arrow_forward

Standard Bank says comedy of errors with bond applicant 'a once off'

21 August 2019 8:04 PM

Only when consumer journalist Wendy Knowler chased Standard Bank did they admit wrongdoing that cost a client R41 000.

Read More arrow_forward

You'll want to read your car tracker's terms and conditions after seeing this

14 August 2019 4:27 PM

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler helps one concerned listener who discovered some worrying information about her car tracker.

Read More arrow_forward

Paying with a debit card? Don’t expect a refund on it when returning items

31 July 2019 8:42 PM

Merchants are not allowed to process refunds on debit cards, warns consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Read More arrow_forward

Buying a used car: Warranties, service plans, avoiding a false sense of security

24 July 2019 7:54 PM

The Money Show’s Brue Whitfield interviews consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Read More arrow_forward

How to buy a new car even if you don’t really have enough money for it

17 July 2019 8:21 PM

South Africans are increasingly buying cars they can’t afford using balloon payments, says consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Read More arrow_forward

Why can't I get in touch with a customer support centre at UberEATS?

17 July 2019 3:36 PM

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler follows up on your complaints in her weekly #ConsumerTalk segment.

Read More arrow_forward

Paying off your credit card every month to avoid interest? The banks are sneaky…

10 July 2019 8:44 PM

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler warns prudent credit card holders to keep tabs on their banks. In this case, it’s FNB.

Read More arrow_forward