More than 10% of job seekers have a criminal record and the numbers are rising as tens of thousands of desperate people lie their way into a job.
Recruitment agency statistics show that the highest incidences of job applicants having a criminal record are in the metered taxi,motor, security, government and retailing sectors.
Compounding the problem is that the government’s identification databases are not linked.
The Department of Home Affairs’ national identification system, based on fingerprint identification, cannot be accessed by the police through their Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which is linked to their criminal records centre. The police are often asked to use their fingerprint system to check if a job applicant has a criminal record.
“It is vital that [the Home Affairs and police fingerprint databases be] linked,” said Kirsten Halcrow, of Employers Mutual Protection Services. “We are not talking about all the data that Home Affairs has made available. We are just asking for proof of identity to be made available so that job-application fraud can be stopped.”
She said that for the past five years the proportion of people with criminal records applying for jobs had been 10%, but Southern Africa Fraud Prevention Services was now reporting a “massive spike” of 780% in employee-application fraud (556 recorded instances) in the first quarter of this year compared with the first quarter of 2014 (63 recorded instances).
Halcrow said that her organisation’s statistics, derived from tens of thousands of monthly requests for verification of a job-applicant’s identity, revealed the seriousness of the situation.
“Tens of thousands of South Africans seeking work have criminal records. These are people across the spectrum, from cleaning staff to executives.”
In a high-profile case last month, the Dube TradePort CEO, Saxen van Coller, was fired for failing to disclose that she had a criminal record before being appointed.
This followed revelations in 2013 that more than 1400 policemen, including a major-general, had criminal convictions.
Johan Kruger, director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said it was worrying that such important government systems were not speaking to each other.
“It is in the public interest to be able to identify individuals based on biometric indicators such as fingerprints.”
Halcrow said that in the past six months 12% of the applicants whose identity her organisation had verified had one or more criminal convictions. Of the 12%, 38% were repeat offenders, with 20% having three or more convictions.
The company found that of the 12% with criminal convictions:
- 25% relate to theft;
- 20% relate to assault;
- 10% were for traffic offences;
- 4.9% were for fraud;
- 3.5% for housebreaking; and
- 3% for robbery.
Halcrow said 65% of these convictions had been made within the past 10 years.
Police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the police were modifying their systems “which will assist us in the fight against crime”.
“We are linked to certain government departments [so that] if they [government departments] want to employ someone they can access [our] information systems.”
Halcrow said: “We are not saying people must be discriminated against because they have criminal records. We are saying there must be systems in place that allow for due diligence, [that allow] employers to look at the type of offence committed, taking into account the position the person is applying for and the relevance of the criminal record to that position.”
Source article; http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2015/07/29/Criminals-landing-thousands-of-jobs