gavel thumb100 GroundUp reports that the criminal records of 94 community health workers and members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), who were arrested at a night vigil outside the Free State Department of Health in 2014 have reportedly been cleared.  

The vigil in June 2014 was a protest against the condition of the Free State public healthcare system and the decision by then MEC for Health, Benny Malakoane, to dismiss approximately 3,000 community health workers in the province.  The protesters, known as the #BopheloHouse94, were arrested for attending a gathering under the Regulation of Gatherings Act of 1993 and were convicted and sentenced in October 2015.  The matter was taken on appeal to the Free State High Court where the court ruled that attending a gathering for which no notice had been given did not constitute a prohibited gathering in terms of the Act.  Convictions and sentences were set aside on 17 November 2016.  But, according to Section27, though the court had set aside the convictions, the #BopheloHouse94 still had criminal records for over three years.  The public interest law centre said:  “The #BopheloHouse94 have been sent from pillar to post for the past three years, incurring significant costs, in attempts to have the criminal records removed.  It has taken a herculean effort from Section27 and the TAC to ensure that the records are finally cleared.”  Legal researcher Tendai Mafuma said the organisation was concerned about the lack of coordination between the courts and SA Police Service Criminal Records Centre.

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