Criminal Record Checks for Volunteer Organisations in South Africa: Ensuring Safety

Volunteering is a noble act that enriches communities and fosters a spirit of service. However, organisations that engage volunteers must prioritise the safety and well-being of those they serve. In South Africa, criminal record checks are pivotal in mitigating potential risks, especially when working with vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. Let’s explore the responsibilities of non-profit organisations (NPOs) and volunteer organisations when it comes to checking criminal records.


Criminal Record Checks & Legal Requirements

The law mandates criminal record checks in specific situations involving children and older persons. The Children’s Act 38 of 2005 requires any person, including volunteers, working with children to undergo a criminal record check. This measure aims to prevent individuals with a history of violence, abuse, or exploitation from gaining access to children, who are particularly vulnerable.

Similarly, the Older Persons Act 13 of 2006 mandates criminal record checks for volunteers working with the elderly. This legislation recognises the heightened vulnerability of older individuals and seeks to safeguard them from potential harm.


Best Practices Beyond Legal Obligations

While legal obligations are clear in specific contexts, conducting criminal record checks is considered a best practice for volunteer organisations across various sectors, even when not explicitly required by law. These checks provide an extra layer of protection and help maintain the trust and confidence of the community.

Volunteer organisations that work with individuals with disabilities, those in healthcare settings, or those providing community services should strongly consider implementing criminal record checks as part of their screening processes. These checks can identify potential risks and enable organisations to make informed decisions about volunteer placements, ultimately safeguarding the well-being of their beneficiaries.


Handling Sensitive Information and Assets

Furthermore, NPOs or volunteer organisations that handle sensitive information, financial transactions, or valuable assets may also benefit from conducting criminal record checks on volunteers. This measure can help mitigate the risk of fraud, theft, or other unlawful activities that could compromise the organisation’s integrity and reputation.


A Comprehensive Screening Process

It’s important to note that a criminal record check is not a standalone solution but rather one component of a comprehensive screening process. Organisations should also conduct thorough interviews, reference checks and continuous verifications.

During interviews, organisations should assess a potential volunteer’s motivations, values, and suitability for the role. Reference checks can provide valuable insights into a volunteer’s character and past behaviour. Moreover, ongoing monitoring is crucial to ensure that volunteers adhere to organisational policies and maintain appropriate conduct throughout their involvement.


Training and Safeguarding Policies

Regular training on safeguarding policies, recognising signs of abuse, and reporting procedures should be provided to all volunteers and staff. Organisations should establish clear policies and protocols for reporting and addressing any concerns or incidents related to abuse or misconduct. These policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect best practices and legal requirements.


Balancing Safety and Rehabilitation

While criminal record checks are essential for ensuring safety, organisations should approach the process sensitively and fairly. Rehabilitation and reintegration are crucial aspects of the criminal justice system, and individuals who have served their sentences and demonstrated genuine remorse and change should not be unduly excluded from contributing to society through volunteer work.

Organisations should assess each case on its merits, considering the nature of the offence, the time elapsed since the offence, and the relevance to the volunteer role. Blanket exclusions based solely on criminal records may be counterproductive and deny individuals the opportunity to reintegrate into society through meaningful volunteer work.


How HURU Can Empower NPOs with Information About Volunteers


By adhering to legal requirements and implementing robust screening processes, including criminal record checks, volunteer organisations can create a safe and secure environment for all involved. HURU is your partner to ensure a culture of responsibility and accountability among volunteers.

At HURU, we offer South African NPOs the simplest, smartest way to verify criminal record status.

Getting a criminal record check done through HURU is a simple process that can be completed in just a few easy steps. Prospective volunteers can easily visit any of our nationwide partner locations at PostNet & Jetline to capture their data. No booking is required, and fingerprinting is easy and clean.

HURU‘s verification system utilises various data points and biometric technology, providing reliable and correct results you can trust. Using advanced technology such as the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), we deliver fast and precise results. With our services, NPOs can take control of background information and ensure accurate and up-to-date evidence about criminal records. We also proudly provide NPOs with highly specialised pricing and packaged solutions. Contact us today or register an account to start a verification.


Can You Do a Free Criminal Record Check in South Africa?

Busting Common Myths of Criminal Record Checks in South Africa

Can I Do A Criminal Record Check On Potential Tenants?

Register an account to start a verification