Always fun trying to do something while you are in South Africa, much more fun trying to do it while you are outside of South Africa. I'm posting this now to provide information and my experience so far. I will edit it once I know the results, but at this point I have no clue if I even sent the application to the correct place!
The first bit of information you need is that you need to make the submission yourself. You have to go to an approved centre for taking your fingerprints, the safest being you local South African Embassy and once the form is completed you need to send it yourself to the Criminal Records Centre yourself. Of course, don't forget that once it is ready you need to arrange for it to be picked up.
I found quite a bit of conflicting information out there but it seems that the most recently updated and most reliable is the SAPS Website here. Here you can find SAPS bank information and that it costs R96 (I called up a local police office to check what the cost is, if you call the Police Clearance call centre all you get is a ringing telephone). There is also an address to send the application to. I was not able to confirm this address yet.
Once you have sent off the application keep track of the tracking number. Once your parcel shows as received you will need to track you application here on the SAPS Site
At the time of publication the website shows the following information as correct.
First pay SAPS with the following information and print out the proof of payment
Bank Details for payment of R96
ABSA cheque account number 4054522787; Branch code 632005; Swift code ABSA ZAJJ). In the case of an electronic payment the initials and surname of the applicant should be indicated as the reference. The letters PCC must be added as reference, which will indicate that the payment is for a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC).
Secondly download the form (called annex 23b form) and go to the South African Embassy and have them take your fingerprints and sign the form themselves.
Thirdly courier the form PLUS the proof of payment to the following address
The Courier address is
The Head of the South African Criminal Record Centre
(For attention: Police Clearance Certificates)
Bothongo Plaza West
CRC Client Service Centre
1st Floor, Room 14
271 Frances Baard Street
Fourthly monitor the application progress here
Fifthly arrange a pre-paid courier to pick up the Police Clearance from the Criminal Records office.
Hopefully soon after all that trouble you will have yourself a wonderful No Criminal Records Police Clearance Certificate!
So the Police Clearance application arrived and it is now saying that it is ready. All I have to do is arrange the courier pickup!
Just to note for those South Africans applying from overseas. Your ID number is not your ID number, it is simply your date of birth. Luckily I thought of trying that. Otherwise I would still think the application was never completed!
Don't use DHL as your courier! They are rather unorganised. I had two Police Clearance certificates to pick up and gave them very clear and direct instructions to pick up both. I only found out they picked up one when it was delivered! Then I had to complain to get them to pick up the second one, which they did at no extra cost.
So, as you may have gathered by now, I was successful in obtaining my police clearance certificate while overseas. It took the suggested time frame plus the time for the international couriers, all in all just under three weeks.