PAIA Frequently Asked Questions
The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act 2 of 2000) FAQ
What is the purpose of the Act?
The purpose of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (often referred to as “PAIA”) is to give effect to section 32 of the Constitution. Section 32 provides for “the right of access to information” and states that “everyone has the right of access to any information held by the State and to information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.”
The motivation for giving effect to the right of access to information is to foster a culture of transparency and accountability both in Public and Private Bodies; and to promote a society in which the people of South Africa have effective access to information, to enable them to more fully exercise and protect all their rights.
Examples of “Public Bodies” include National and Provincial Government Departments, Municipalities and Parastatals (e.g. Eskom, Telkom).
Examples of “Private Bodies” include a natural person or partnership that carries on trade, business or profession; and a former or existing juristic person.
What information can I request and have access to from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development or any public body for that matter?
Any information or records, including personal information or records, held by the Department or its officials. It does not matter when that information or record came into existence.
Personal records held by the Department.
To have a sense of the kind of information you may request, please look at the Information Manual from the Deputy Information Officer of the Department.
What information may I be refused access to by the Department?
The Act is not unlimited; therefore your request may be refused in certain cases (see, sections 7, 12 and Chapter 4 of PAIA). For example, you may not be given access to information under the following circumstances:
- Information or records about another person or entity, subject to access on these records being approved by such third parties especially if information was given to the Department or Public Body on confidentiality or privacy basis.
- If the record is requested for the purpose of criminal or civil proceedings, where the criminal or civil proceedings have commenced. If such information is obtained, it may not be used in a court of law unless the court thinks that the exclusion of such information will be detrimental to the course of justice.
- The records of Cabinet and its Committees, and those records of an individual member of Parliament or of a Provincial Legislature in that capacity.
Please note that this Act is above any other Act or legislation that may prohibits or restricts you from having access to any information.
How do I access information?
The Director-General of any National Government Department is the Information Officer. In the case of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development the Director-General has appointed a Deputy Information Officers to assist in the administration of the Act (the contact details of the Information Officer and Deputy Information Officers are found at the back of this brochure).
Therefore, in order to request information you must fill-in and submit a “Form A” to the Deputy Information Officers of the Department.
Please take note that the Deputy Information Officer must help and guide you through all the processes.
What information (or record) in the Department is freely accessible without having to apply for it?
Ask the Deputy Information Officers to make a list of such information available to you, alternatively, you can also find it in the Information Manual or at any office of the Department such as National or Regional Offices, Masters Offices or Magistrates’ Office.
Are there any prescribed fees payable in order for me to access any information?
Unless the requested information is made freely available, you may be required to pay a “request fee” and an “access fee”. The Deputy Information Officers will advise you on whether or not you are required to pay any fees.
How long will the Deputy Information Officer take to make a decision regarding my request?
The Deputy Information Officer must provide you with a decision (either to provide or deny you access to the information or records) within 30 days. The Deputy Information Officer may extend the period of 30 days by another period of 30 days, however only one extension is allowed.
The period may be extended under certain prescribed circumstances, for example where the request is for a large number of records or where the requested information is at an office elsewhere from the office of the Deputy Information Officer.
Should the Deputy Information Officer not provide you with a decision within 30 days (or within 60 days if there was an extension) he or she is regarded as having refused your request (deemed refusal). In this case of a “deemed refusal” you have a right to appeal to the Internal Authority (see below).
What can I do if the Deputy Information Officer refuses me permission to access the information I have requested?
You have the right to appeal to the Internal Authority, who is the Minister. If you are still not satisfied with the decision of the Minister, you may then approach a Court of Law.
In order to lodge an appeal you must fill-in and submit a “Form B” (Notice of an internal appeal) to the Department. The Deputy Information Officer must help and guide you through this process.
Please take note that no fee is payable when you lodge an appeal with the Internal Authority.
Please take note that there is no internal appeal for Private Bodies, therefore a requester must approach a Court of Law if, for example, a request for information is refused.
Should you need any assistance or have further questions regarding how you may access information or records held by the Department (or by any Public Body), please do not hesitate to contact the Deputy lnformation Officers of the Department (or of any Public Body).
You may also contact the South African Human Rights Commission for assistance at telephone number (011) 484 8300 and request to talk to an official of the PAIA Unit.
FEES FOR RECORDS OF PUBLIC BODY
The “request fee” payable by every requester, other than a personal requester referred to in section 22(1) of the Act, is R35–00
The “access fees” referred to in section 22(7) of the Act (unless the requester is exempted under section 22(8)) and “fees for reproduction” referred to in section 15(3) of the Act, are as follows:
- for every photocopy of an A4-size page or part thereof : R0–60
- for every printed copy of an A4-size page or part thereof : R0–40
- held on a computer or in electronic or machine readable form for a copy in a computer-readable form on -
(i) for transcription of visual images, for an A4-size or part thereof : R22–00
- stiffy disc : R5–00
- compact disc : R40–00
(ii) for a copy of visual images : R60–00
(i) for a transcription of an audio record, for an A4-size page or part thereof : R12–00
(ii) for a copy of an audio record : R17–00
The actual postal fee is payable when a copy of a record must be posted to a requester.
Exemptions from paying “access fees”
Person or persons exempted from paying access fees:-
- A single person whose annual income does not exceed R14,712–00; or
- Married persons or a person and his/her life partner whose annual income does not exceed R27,192–00
Please take note of the following differences when making an application for access to information to a Public Body and a Private Body
Application form to use
Request fee payable
( when not satisfied with the decision (including “deemed refusal”) of the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer)
Internal Appeal to the
(e.g. Minister, MEC or Mayor)
- use “Form B”
- no fee payable
(there is no Internal Appeal)
(only when not satisfied with the outcome of the Internal Appeal)
Application to Magistrates’ Court
Amended: 09 Jun 2016