The South African government might soon be expunging the records of those with dagga-related criminal charges. This follows last year’s constitutional court ruling that dagga possession and usage will now be legal in private dwellings.
According to Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, government is looking into legislative options to clean the records of those who have never appeared in court but paid admission of guilt fines for dagga possession.
Speaking at a recent parliamentary Q & A, Lamola said that people with dagga-related charges can soon apply to have their criminal record expunged. Those currently serving time for dagga possession will have to apply to President Ramaphosa for a pardon.
“Somebody who applies to have their criminal record expunged will have to indicate whether the conviction occurred before September 18 last year or thereafter,” Lamola said.
Currently, there are thousands of South Africans with criminal records because of dagga possession. Before the Constitutional Court ruling, those caught possessing dagga were punishable by imprisonment, paying a fine, and/or community service depending on the amount found on them. Those found guilty then have a criminal record, which can prevent people from travelling and cause employment complications among other things.
Those with a dagga charge currently have to wait 10 years after the charge to get it expunged, this is only granted if the guilty party has not had any other criminal charges against them within that decade.