In terms of section 32 of the Constitution of South Africa, every person is to be afforded the right to access to information held by the State and also by any person which he or she requires in order to enforce or protect rights which that person has:
Everyone has the right of access to
any information held by the state; and
any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.
National legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right, and may provide for reasonable measures to alleviate the administrative and financial burden on the state.
Since the Constitution does not only apply vertically, i.e. regulating the relationship between the State and its subjects, but also horizontally, i.e. regulating the relationships between private persons, the South African legislature had to enact legislation that provides for both categories of rights. This was achieved with the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (“the Act”), which prescribed how access to information held by public bodies and private bodies must be obtained and sets out the procedure for addressing a request for access to information and for challenging any decision made in response to such request. Continue reading