FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION INSTITUTE VS GINWALA COMMISSION

The FXI made a request to the DOJ to access the submissions made by the State to the Ginwala Inquiry, which was set up to investigate the suspension of Adv. Vusi Pikoli who had been the National Director of Public Prosecution.  The FXI sought access to the states submissions with the view that it was of sufficient public interest further based on the right as afforded by section 16 and 32 of the Constitution, which generally affords the public to receive information pertaining to such submissions.  The FXI was however refused access to the submissions on the grounds that the releasing of the submissions will prejudice the security of the Republic.

The FXI made an application to the High Court in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (“PAIA”).  The matter was supposed to be heard on the 10th of March 2011.  The FXI gave the DOJ an extension for filing the answering affidavit. Notwithstanding the extension, the DOJ failed to file their responding papers, the FXI then took upon ourselves to follow up by way of correspondence in the last of which we advised that further failure by the DOJ to co-operate would result in the re-setting of the matter down for hearing in court, by the FXI. The matter was then later set down for hearing and the date allocated for hearing by the court had been the 18th of January 2013. The due notice was served on the department. Prior to the date however the Department then gave the FXI the record as sought by the FXI albeit not complete. The matter was accordingly withdrawn.

The FXI’s aim in this matter was highlight the role of PAIA, particularly the right to access to Information in action. It is important that people know not only the abstract value of the right to access to information but get to see it enforced as well.  Particularly in cases such as these where the state is involved, which progresses the notion of transparency as well as accountability.

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