22 May 2013

R2K calls for citizens to help identify National Key Points

On 10 May 2013, the Right2Know campaign called on South Africans to help it identify areas which have been dedicated as national key points under the National Key Points Act (NKPA), Act 102 of 1980.

By definition, National Key Points (NKPs) are areas deemed to be vital to national security under Act 102 of 1980. Through the classification of these areas as NKPs it is "justifiable to restrict citizens' rights to access information about these places, and prohibit the right to assemble or protest there."

The R2K currently suspects that there are about 182 NKPs. However, it is difficult to confirm exactly where they are.

In order to investigate this further, SAHA submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request in October 2012 to the South African Plice Service (SAPS) on behalf of the Right2Know campaign for the following records:

  1. Records indicating any place or area declared as a National Key Point in accordance with section 2 of the National Key Points Act;
  2. Records indicating any place or area declared as a National Key Points Complex in accordance with section 2A of the National Key Points Act;
  3. Bank statements of the special account for the safeguarding of National Key Points established in accordance with section 3B of the National Key Points Act for the period 2010 to 2012.

This initial request was refused as was the internal appeal to the Minister of Police. In his response informing SAHA of his decision to turn down our internal appeal on 28/02/2013, Mthethwa confirmed that areas designated as NKPs can fall into any of the following broad categories:

(1) Banks;
(2) Munitions Industries;
(3) Petro Chemical Industries;
(4) Water Supply;
(5) Electricity;
(6) Communications;
(7) Transport Air;
(8) Government Institutions;
(9) Data Processing;
(10) Research; or
(11) Technology Information Systems

Whilst arguably there may need to be a certain level of security in place in some of these locations, R2K challenges the breadth of these categories, asserting that:

"we (all citizens) need to have a list of National Key Points, because the Act could apply to just about any building or site, not just sensitive military bases - airports, petro-chemical refineries, public-broadcasting stations and even the president's private residence are just a few of the places known to be National Key Points."

By extension the lack of identification of such places spaces could be abused by those in power to hide critical information or even deny citizens their right to protest. 

As at 22 May 2013 the campaign has through the crowd source method been able to identify 93 possible NKP's.

SAHA and the R2K Campaign are currently preparing to challenge the refusal by SAPS to grant our PAIA request through the courts in the coming months. In order to support this effort to make information about what these National Key Points are, how decisions about declaring NKPs are made, and the costs of guarding such sites more readily available to South Africans, please help us to identify possible NKPs by visiting the R2K website at http://www.r2k.org.za/2013/05/09/help-us-crowd-source-a-list-of-national-key-points/

To track this and other PAIA requests submitted by SAHA to public bodies, please visit the SAHA PAIA tracker at http://foip.saha.org.za/request_tracker/search.