Below we discuss the procedural requirements relating to information sought from a public body regarding the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (“PAIA”).
Section 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa provides that everyone has the right to access any information held by the state and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. This legislation is referred to as PAIA.
Although PAIA has been in effect since 2002, since 1 July 2021, it’s had a more significant impact due to the appointment of a dedicated regulator to enforce it.
Section 11 of PAIA emphasises that when requesting information from a public body, the information requester must comply with all procedural requirements set out in PAIA.
If the procedural requirements are complied with and the information requested is not protected from disclosure by one of the Act’s exemptions, the requester must be given access to the information.
Some of the procedural requirements of PAIA include:.
- Public bodies must publish a manual that provides guidelines to the public on how the information they hold can be made available to requesters.
- Some public bodies have designed their unique form for the requesting of information. However, the prescribed form A, which applies to all public bodies, can be used, and is attached as an annexure to the regulations regarding PAIA, promulgated in Government Notice 187, Government Gazette 23119 dated 15 February 2002. Therefore, it is essential to obtain the manual of the public body in question and ensure that the guidelines contained therein are complied with and the correct requesting form completed.
- The requester must send the prescribed form to the listed information officer and recorded email address.
- A required fee may be applicable if the information is not freely available.
- The requester must provide sufficient particulars to allow the public body’s office to identify the record(s) requested.
- In addition, the requester must indicate the appropriate form of access required and state whether the record concerned is preferred in a particular language.
- Furthermore, the requester needs to provide their postal address or fax number within the Republic of South Africa.
- If, in addition to a written reply, if the requester wishes to be informed of the decision on the request in any other manner, they need to state that manner and necessary particulars to ensure they are notified.
- If the request is made on behalf of someone else, the requester must submit proof of their capacity to the reasonable satisfaction of the information officer.
As a result, all procedural requirements must be adhered to by a requester. Should they fail to comply, a public body is not obliged to provide the information, and the requester is not entitled to the information.
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If you have any questions relating to PAIA and requesting information from public bodies, contact us for assistance.
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