28 September 2016

Interns reflect: First week on the job

The FOIP team has two new interns: Boitumelo Maleke, a recent LLB graduate for whom this is her first work experience and Kelsey Jones who joins the South African History Archive (SAHA) through the Canadian Bar Association, Young Lawyers International Program (the CBA program). The CBA has a long standing relationship with SAHA. These are Boitumelo and Kelsey's reflections on their first week at SAHA.

Boitumelo Maleke

My first week was busy and overwhelming. The orientation programme provided on the first day was laid out well and set out the objectives of the programme and a number of activities we had to complete in order to be acquainted with the work of the organization.

One of the most important lessons I received was how to submit a request for information, made in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAIA), through the SAHA PAIA Tracker. This is at the heart of the work that the FOIP team does. The PAIA Tracker allows the team to track submitted PAIA requests and includes generic as well as the specific information officer details of public and private bodies. Another interesting task that I participated in was filling in compliance data for municipal compliance with proactive disclosure duties - that is compliance with laws that require that information be released automatically without the need for a formal request. Perhaps upon completion of the compliance data this may reveal a trend on whether it is small or big municipalities which comply with the Act.

I anticipate that the internship will be filled with a lot of learning curves and triumphs. I am surrounded by a dedicated staff that has made the training possible and easy to grasp. I look forward to the internship being collaborative and an experience that will influence other aspects of my forthcoming career.

Kelsey Jones

As I walked up the stairs to the main entrance to the Women's Gaol on Constitutional Hill, the historical significance of working on Constitutional Hill was not lost on me. A building that historically was used to cage, dehumanize and oppress people, especially people of colour, is now the home of SAHA, and the location of my six month placement.

Prior to arriving in Johannesburg, I read the Constitution of South Africa and PAIA. As I reviewed, I was encouraged by the progressive nature of the laws informing the right of access to information. However, I pondered how the realities of the South African legal system would influence the implementation of its legislation as practically, this process can be complex, costly and difficult to enforce.  

During my orientation week, I was given an in-depth orientation about the work FOIP does in expanding the boundaries of the right to access of information. In a country where many records were supressed or even destroyed to hide past atrocities, SAHA uses archival activism to facilitate change and hold public and private bodies accountable.

As the week progressed, I began to understand the role I would play at SAHA for the next six months. From submitting PAIA requests to writing legal memoranda on upcoming litigation, I will be receiving a comprehensive internship experience surrounding the right of access to information in South Africa and for that I am grateful.

For more information on volunteering and interning oppertunities, please see the volunteers and interns page.


The two new FOIP Interns: Boitumelo and Kelsey
The two new FOIP Interns: Boitumelo and Kelsey