Promotion to Access of Information
The Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 ( (PAIA) is legislation in the Republic of South Africa allowing access to any information held by the State, and any information held by private bodies that is required for the exercise and protection of any rights. It applies specifically to South Africa, but is part of the global drive towards freedom of information. The Act is enforced by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).
Section 32(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, determines that everyone has a right of access to any information held by the State. Section 32(2) of the Constitution provides for the enactment of national legislation to give effect to this fundamental right. PAIA is the national legislation contemplated in section 32(2) of the Constitution.
Section 9 of PAIA recognises that the right of access to information is subject to certain justifiable limitations aimed at, amongst others:
(a) the reasonable protection of privacy;
(b) commercial confidentiality;
(c) effective, efficient and good governance.
Access to Information Procedure
- A requester must use Form A as prescribed in the regulations published in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Government Notice R223 of 9 March 2001).
- A request fee in the amount of R 35,00 is payable before the request will be processed. The payment of the request fee does not apply to a record requested by a maintenance officer or maintenance investigator for purposes of a maintenance investigation or inquiry in terms of the provisions of the Maintenance Act, 1998 or the regulations made under section 44 of the said Act (as per Government Notice R991 of 14 October 2005). Provision is made on Form A for the requester to indicate whether he/she wants a copy of the record or merely wants to look at it.
- Form A also provides for a requester to indicate in which language the record is required, although there is no obligation on the department to translate it.
- A requester may also indicate in what form (i.e. paper copy, electronic copy, etc) access to the record must be provided. This will be adhered to unless doing so will unreasonably interfere with the running of the Department or for practical reasons access cannot be given in the required form or medium.
- An access fee is payable should the requester for instance need copies of the requested record.
- A single person whose annual income does not exceed R14 712,00 per annum and married persons, or a person and his or her life partner whose annual income does not exceed R27 192,00 are exempted from paying access fees (as per Government Notice R991 of 14 October 2005).
- Payment of the access fee does not apply to the personal record of a requester (as per Government Notice R991 of 14 October 2005).
- In certain instances, a requester may also be requested to pay a deposit.
- A requester may lodge an internal appeal against the payment of the deposit and / or access fee. Should a requester want to lodge an internal appeal, Form C (as prescribed in Government Notice R223 of 9 March 2001) must be completed.
- In the event that the internal appeal procedure be exhausted and the requester is still not satisfied with the outcome, a court may be approached for an appropriate order.
- Access to a record will be withheld until all applicable fees have been paid.
- Information may be requested on behalf of another person, but the capacity in which the request is made must be indicated.
- If a requester is unable to read or write, or cannot complete the form because of a disability, the request can be made orally. The information officer, or a person so delegated, must then fill in the form on behalf of such requester and give him/her a copy of the completed form.
Mr Paul Pienaar
Telephone No: +27 21 483 8315
Fax No.: +27 21 483 3016
Postal address: Private Bag X9165, Cape Town, 8000