12 March 2008

The South African History Archive vs. Minister of Defence, 12.03.08

The South African History Archive (SAHA) goes to the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday 13th March 2008 in relation to its application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for Military Intelligence records in the possession of the Ministry of Defence and the unlawful transfer of requested records to Zimbabwe.

This related to a PAIA request that was lodged five years ago in March 2003 by the late Dr John Seiler, a professor of political and international studies. SAHA took up the request on behalf of Dr Seiler and has been obliged to litigate in order to secure basic information and detail as to what has happened to the records requested and why.

SAHA is seeking a declaratory order that the Department has not complied with its obligations in terms of the Constitution and PAIA and that it is obliged to do so in the future.

Since launching its Freedom of Information Programme in 2001, SAHA has lodged over 900 PAIA requests and has litigated in approximately a dozen matters. To date, SAHA has secured favourable out of court settlements in each matter. This case may the first time that SAHA gets to argue its cause before the Courts. SAHA believes that this case exemplifies the importance of required amendments to existing legislation that would allow for the creation of an Information Ombudsman that would be authorized to adjudicate on such matters.

For further information, please contact:
Piers Pigou (083) 381 7150