South Africa

Access to Information Legislation

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa

The right to information in South Africa is enshrined in the Constitution. It states in section 32:

Everyone has the right of access to - 

  • any information held by the state; and
  • any information that is held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.

Download a copy of the Constitution

Promotion of Access to Information Act

In 2000 the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was enacted to give effect to the constitutional right to information. PAIA establishes the key rights and restrictions that apply when accessing information, including:

  • who is entitled to request information;
  • what entities information can be requested from;
  • the type of information that can be requested;
  • how a request for information must be made;
  • how long the information holder has to respond to a request;
  • when the information holder must release the information requested and when they can withhold that information; and
  • the right to appeal a decision of an information holder.

Download a copy of the Promotion of Access to Information Act

PAIA allows a number of matters regarding its implementation, in particular the form for making requests for information and the fees applicable to such requests, to be regulated by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development.

View the PAIA Regulations

Exemptions from the application of particular aspects of PAIA (including fees) may be granted by the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development. These amendments are detailed in Government Notices, published in the Government Gazette.

View Government Notices

Legislation related to PAIA

The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act 1996

Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 2000

Protection of State Information Bill (as passed by the National Assembly on 4 September 2011)

Protection of Personal Information Bill (as passed by the National Assembly on 11 September 2012)

Jurisprudence

SA Airlink (Pty) Limited v The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and Others [2012] ZAGPJHC 143

Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd v PFE International Inc (BVI) and others 2012 (2) SA 269 (SCA)

President of the Republic of South Africa and Others v M & G Media Limited 2012 (2) SA 50 (CC)

De Lange and another v Eskom Holdings Limited and others 2012 (1) SA 280 (GSJ)

AVUSA Publishing Eastern Cape (Pty) Ltd v Qoboshiyane NO and others 2012 (1) SA 158 (ECP)

Independent Newspapers (Pty) Ltd and Others v African National Congress and another [2011] ZAWCHC 436

M & G Limited and Others v 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa Limited and Another 2011 (5) SA 163 (GSJ)

Mili v Matron, Fort Beaufort Hospital and Another [2011] ZAECGHC 28

Centre for Social Accountability v The Secretary of Parliament and others 2011 (5) SA 279 (ECG)

Dlusha v King Sabatha Dalindyebo Municipality and Others [2011] ZAECMHC 23

Elementone Limited v Modern Media Promotions (Pty) Limited and Others [2010] ZAGPJHC 89

National Director of Public Prosecutions v King 2010 (2) SACR 146 (SCA)

Kerkhoff v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others [2010] ZAGPPHC 5 (GNP)

Fortuin v Cobra Promotions CC 2010 (5) SA 288 (ECP)

Brummer v Minister for Social Development and Others 2009 (6) SA 323 (CC)

Garden Cities (Incorporated Association not for Gain) v City of Cape Town and Another 2009 (6) SA 33 (WCC)

Biowatch Trust v Registrar Genetic Resources and Others 2009 (6) SA 232 (CC)

Public Service Accountability Monitor and Another v Director-General: Office of the Premier: Eastern Cape Provincial Government [2008] ZAECHC 70

National Teachers Union v The Superintendent General: Department of Education & Culture, KwaZulu-Natal [2008] ZALC 18

Limpopo Medi-Clinic v MEC for Health and Welfare Limpopo Provincial Government and Others [2008] ZAGPHC 83

Midi Television (Pty) Ltd v Director of Public Prosecutions (Western Cape) [2007] 3 All SA 318 (SCA)

Mittalsteel South Africa Ltd. v Hlatshwayo [2007] 1 All SA 1 (SCA)

Keylite Chemicals v Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited [2007] ZAGPHC 258

Pienaar v Jordaan [2006] ZAGPHC 173

Claase v Information Officer of South African Airways (Pty) Ltd. [2006] ZASCA 134

Unitas Hospital v Van Wyk and Another 2006 (4) SA 436 (SCA)

MEC for Roads and Public Works Eastern Cape and Another v Intertrade Two (Pty) Ltd 2006 (5) SA 1 (SCA)

Transnet Ltd and Another v SA Metal Machinery Co (Pty) Ltd [2005] ZASCA 113

Earthlife Africa (Cape Town Branch) v Eskom Holdings Ltd [2005] ZAGPHC 129

Minister for Provincial & Local Government v Unrecognised Traditional Leaders, Limpopo Province, Sekhukhuneland 2005 (2) SA 110 (SCA)

Clutchco (Pty) Ltd v Davis 2005 (3) SA 486 (SCA)

Institute for Democracy in South Africa and Others v African National Congress and Others 2005 (5) SA 39 (C)

Cape Metropolitan Council v Metro Inspection Services (WC) CC 2001 (3) SA 1013 (SCA)

Shabalala and Others v Attorney-General of the Transvaal and Another 1996 (1) SA 725