PAIA Frequently Asked Questions

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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 is to give effect to the constitutional right of access to any information held by the state, as well as information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any right.

The motivation for giving effect of the right to 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.

What information can I request and have access to from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development or any public body for that matter?

  • All documentation or records held by the Department or public body or its Officials. It does not matter when that information came into existence.
  • Your Personal records held by the Department or a public body.

The Act is not unlimited. You may not be given access to information, for example, under the following circumstances:-

  • Third party information or records, subject to access to these records being approved by such third parties, especially if such information was given to the Department or public body on a confidentiality or privacy basis.
  • If the record is requested for the purpose of criminal or civil proceedings.
  • The records of Cabinet and its Committees.

To have a sense of the kind of information you may request, please request an Information Manual from the Deputy lnformation Officer.

Please note that this Act is above any other Act or legislation that may prohibit or restrict you from having access to any information.

What information within the Department is freely accessible without having to apply to the Deputy Information Officer?
Ask the Deputy Information Officer to make a list of such information available to you, alternatively, you can get the list from the Department’s website – www.doj.gov.za or any office of the Department such as Regional Office, Masters’ Office 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 (please see schedule of fees at the back of brochure). Payment is by means of revenue stamps that can be purchased from any Post Office.

How do I access information?
The Director-General of any Government Department is the Information Officer. In the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development the Director-General has appointed a Deputy Information Officer to assist in the administration of the Act. The details of both are found below.

The Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer must help you to access whatever information or documents you need. This must be done through the filling in and submission of “Form A”. You can also get “Form A” from the Department’s Website.

How long will the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer take before responding to my request?
The Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer must respond to your request within 30 days. The Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer may extend the period of 30 days once e.g. 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 Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer.

What happens to my request if the information I am requesting is not located within the Department but at another Public or Private body?
The Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer must transfer your request to the Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer of the relevant public or private body within 14 days who is then obliged to deal with your request. You will be notified should this be the case.

What can I do should the lnformation Officer or Deputy Information Officer deny me permission to access the kind of information I have requested?
You have the right to appeal, to the internal Authority, who is the Minister of the Department concerned. If you are still not satisfied you may approach a Court of law. The Information Officer or Deputy Information Officer must help and guide you through this process.

Should you need any assistance or have further questions regarding how you may access any information within the Department of Jusitice and Constitutional Development or any Public body, please do not hesitate to contact the Information Officer or Deputy lnformation Officer of the relevant Department. You may also contact the South African Human Rights Commission for assistance at Tel: (011) 484 8300.

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These Frequently Asked Questions are based on the PAIA Booklet.