Section 4 | Records held by official or independent contractor of public or private body

For the purposes of this Act, but subject to section 12, a record in the possession or under the control of – 

(a) an official of a public body or private body in his or her capacity as such; or
(b) an independent contractor engaged by a public body or private body in the capacity as such contractor, 

is regarded as being a record of that public body or private body, respectively. 

Section 10 | Guide on how to use Act

(1) The Information Regulator must update and make available the existing guide that has been compiled by the South African Human Rights Commission containing such information, in an easily comprehensible form and manner, as may reasonably be required by a person who wishes to exercise any right contemplated in this Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013. 

(2) The guide must, without limiting the generality of subsection (1), include a description of— 

(a) the objects of this Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013; 

(b) the manner and form of a request for— 

(i) access to a record of a public body contemplated in section 11; and
(ii) access to a record of a private body contemplated in section 50; 

(c) the assistance available from the information officer of a public body in terms of this Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013; 

(d) the assistance available from the Information Regulator in terms of this Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013; 

(e) all remedies in law available regarding an act or failure to act in respect of a right or duty conferred or imposed by this Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013, including the manner of lodging— 

(i) an internal appeal;
(ii) a complaint to the Information Regulator; and
(iii) an application with a court against a decision by the information officer of a public body, a decision on internal appeal, a decision by the Information Regulator or a decision of the head of a private body; 

(f) the provisions of sections 14 and 51 requiring a public body and private body, respectively, to compile a manual, and how to obtain access to a manual; 

(g) the provisions of sections 15 and 52 providing for the voluntary disclosure of categories of records by a public body and private body, respectively; 

(h) the notices issued in terms of sections 22 and 54 regarding fees to be paid in relation to requests for access; and 

(i) the regulations made in terms of section 92. 

(3) The Information Regulator must, if necessary, update and publish the guide at intervals of not more than two years. 

(4) The guide must be made available as prescribed. 

Section 11 | Right of access to records of public bodies

(1) A requester must be given access to a record of a public body if – 

(a) that requester complies with all the procedural requirements in this Act relating to a request for access to that record; and
(b) access to that record is not refused in terms of any ground for refusal contemplated in Chapter 4 of this Part. 

(2) A request contemplated in subsection (1) excludes a request for access to a record containing personal information about the requester. 

(3) A requester’s right of access contemplated in subsection (1) is, subject to this Act, not affected by – 

(a) any reasons the requester gives for requesting access; or
(b) the information officer’s belief as to what the requester’s reasons are for requesting access. 

Section 14 | Manual on functions of, and index of records held by, public body

(1) The information officer of a public body must in at least three official languages make available, as referred to in subsection (3), a manual containing—

(a) in general 

(i) a description of its structure and functions; 

(ii) the postal and street address, phone and fax number and, if available, electronic mail address of the information officer of the body and of every deputy information officer of the body designated in terms of section 17(1); 

(iii) a description of all remedies available in respect of an act or a failure to act by the body; and 

(iv) such other information as may be prescribed; 

(b) insofar as this Act is concerned— 

(i) a description of the guide referred to in section 10, if available, and how to obtain access to it; 

(ii) sufficient detail to facilitate a request for access to a record of the body, a description of the subjects on which the body holds records and the categories of records held on each subject; 

(iii) the latest notice, in terms of section 15(2), if any, regarding the categories of records of the body which are available without a person having to request access in terms of this Act; 

(iv) a description of the services available to members of the public from the body and how to gain access to those services; and 

(v) a description of any arrangement or provision for a person (other than a public body referred to in paragraph (a) or (b)(i) of the definition of ‘‘public body’’ in section 1) by consultation, making representations or otherwise, to participate in or influence— 

(aa) the formulation of policy; or 

(bb) the exercise of powers or performance of duties, 

by the body; 

(c) insofar as the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013, is concerned— 

(i) the purpose of the processing; 

(ii) a description of the categories of data subjects and of the information or categories of information relating thereto; 

(iii) the recipients or categories of recipients to whom the personal information may be supplied; 

(iv) planned transborder flows of personal information; and 

(v) a general description allowing a preliminary assessment of the suitability of the information security measures to be implemented by the responsible party to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information which is to be processed. 

(2) A public body must, if necessary, update and publish its manual referred to in subsection (1) at intervals of not more than one year. 

(3) The manual referred to in subsection (1), or the updated version thereof as referred to in subsection (2) must be made available— 

(a) on the web site, if any, of the public body; 

(b) at the head office of the public body for public inspection during normal business hours; 

(c) to any person upon request and upon the payment of a reasonable amount; and 

(d) to the Information Regulator upon request.

(4) 

(a) If the functions of two or more public bodies are closely connected, the Minister may on request or of his or her own accord determine that the two or more bodies compile one manual only. 

(b) The public bodies in question must share the cost of the compilation and making available of such manual as the Minister determines. 

(5) For security, administrative or financial reasons, the Minister may, on request or of his or her own accord by notice in the Gazette, exempt any public body or category of public bodies from any provision of this section for such period as the Minister thinks fit. 

Section 15 | Voluntary disclosure and automatic availability of certain records

(1) The information officer of a public body, referred to in paragraph (a) or (b)(i) of the definition of ‘public body’ in section 1, must make available in the prescribed manner a description of— 

(a) the categories of records of the public body that are automatically available without a person having to request access in terms of this Act, including such categories available– 

(i) for inspection in terms of legislation other than this Act; 

(ii) for purchase or copying from the body; and 

(iii) from the body free of charge; and 

(b) how to obtain access to such records. 

(2) ……….. 

(3) The only fee payable (if any) for access to a record referred to in subsection (1) is a prescribed fee for reproduction. 

(4) The information officer of a public body may delete any part of a record contemplated in subsection (1)(a) which, on a request for access, may or must be refused in terms of Chapter 4 of this Part. 

(5) Section 11 and any other provisions in this Act related to that section do not apply to any category of records included in a notice in terms of subsection (2). 

 

Section 19 | Duty to assist requesters

(1) If a requester informs the information officer of – 

(a) a public body that he or she wishes to make a request for access to a record of that public body; or 

(b) a public body (other than a public body referred to in paragraph (a) or (b)(i) of the definition of “public body” in section 1) that he or she wishes to make a request for access to a record of another public body, 

the information officer must render such reasonable assistance, free of charge, as is necessary to enable that requester to comply with section 18(1). 

(2) If a requester has made a request for access that does not comply with section 18(1), the information officer concerned may not refuse the request because of that non-compliance unless the information officer has – 

(a) notified that requester of an intention to refuse the request and stated in the notice – 

(i) the reasons for the contemplated refusal; and 

(ii) that the information officer or another official identified by the information officer would assist that requester in order to make the request in a form that would remove the grounds for refusal; 

(b) given the requester a reasonable opportunity to seek such assistance; 

(c) as far as reasonably possible, furnished the requester with any information (including information about the records, other than information on the basis of which a request for access may or must be refused in terms of any provision of Chapter 4 of this Part, held by the body which are relevant to the request) that would assist the making of the request in that form; and 

(d) given the requester a reasonable opportunity to confirm the request or alter it to comply with section 18(1). 

(3) When computing any period referred to in section 25(1), the period commencing on the date on which notice is given in terms of subsection (2) and ending on the date on which the person confirms or alters the request for access concerned must be disregarded. 

(4) If it is apparent on receipt of a request for access that it should have been made to another public body, the information officer of the public body concerned must – 

(a) render such assistance as is necessary to enable the person to make the request, to the information officer of the appropriate public body; or 

(b) transfer the request in accordance with section 20 to the last-mentioned information officer, 

whichever will result in the request being dealt with earlier. 

Section 22 | Fees

(1) The information officer of a public body to whom a request for access is made, must by notice require the requester to pay the prescribed request fee (if any), before further processing the request. 

[Section 22(1) substituted by section 110 (Schedule) of Act 4 of 2013]

(2) If— 

(a) the search for a record of a public body in respect of which a request for access by a requester has been made; and 

(b) the preparation of the record for disclosure (including any arrangements contemplated in section 29(2)(a) and (b)(i) and (ii)(aa)), 

would, in the opinion of the information officer of the body, require more than the hours prescribed for this purpose for requesters, the information officer must by notice require the requester to pay as a deposit the prescribed portion (being not more than one third) of the access fee which would be payable if the request is granted. 

[Section 22(2) substituted by section 110 (Schedule) of Act 4 of 2013]

(3) The notice referred to in subsection (1) or (2) must state— 

(a) the amount of the deposit payable in terms of subsection (2), if applicable; 

(b) that the requester may lodge an internal appeal, a complaint to the Information Regulator or an application with a court, as the case may be, against the tender or payment of the request fee in terms of subsection (1), or the tender or payment of a deposit in terms of subsection (2), as the case may be; and 

(c) the procedure (including the period) for lodging the internal appeal, complaint to the Information Regulator or application, as the case may. 

[Section 22(3) substituted by section 110 (Schedule) of Act 4 of 2013]

(4) If a deposit has been paid in respect of a request for access which is refused, the information officer concerned must repay the deposit to the requester. 

(5) The information officer of a public body must withhold a record until the requester concerned has paid the applicable fees (if any). 

(6) A requester whose request for access to a record of a public body has been granted must pay an access fee for reproduction and for search and preparation contemplated in subsection (7)(a) and (b), respectively, for any time reasonably required in excess of the prescribed hours to search for and prepare (including making any arrangements contemplated in section 29(2)(a) and (b)(i) and (ii)(aa)) the record for disclosure. 

(7) Access fees prescribed for the purposes of subsection (6) must provide for a reasonable access fee for – 

(a) the cost of making a copy of a record, or of a transcription of the content of a record, as contemplated in section 29(2)(a) and (b)(i), (ii)(bb), (iii) and (v) and, if applicable, the postal fee; and 

(b) the time reasonably required to search for the record and prepare (including making any arrangements contemplated in section 29(2)(a) and (b)(i) and (ii)(aa)) the record for disclosure to the requester. 

(8) The Minister may, by notice in the Gazette – 

(a) exempt any person or category of persons from paying any fee referred to in this section; 

(b) determine that any fee referred to in this section is not to exceed a certain maximum amount; 

(c) determine the manner in which any fee referred to in this section is to be calculated; 

(d) determine that any fee referred to in this section does not apply to a category of records; 

(e) exempt any person or record or category of persons or records for a stipulated period from any fee referred to in subsection (6); and 

(f) determine that where the cost of collecting any fee referred to in this section exceeds the amount charged, such fee does not apply. 

Section 26 | Extension of period to deal with request

  1. The information officer to whom a request for access has been made or transferred, may extend the period of 30 days referred to in section 25(1) (in this section referred to as the “original period”) once for a further period of not more than 30 days, if –
    1. the request is for a large number of records or requires a search through a large number of records and compliance with the original period would unreasonably interfere with the activities of the public body concerned;
    2. the request requires a search for records in, or collection thereof from, an office of the public body not situated in the same town or city as the office of the information officer that cannot reasonably be completed within the original period;
    3. consultation among divisions of the public body or with another public body is necessary or desirable to decide upon the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original period;
    4. more than one of the circumstances contemplated in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) exist in respect of the request making compliance with the original period not reasonably possible; or
    5. the requester consents in writing to such extension.
  2. If a period is extended in terms of subsection (1), the information officer must, as soon as reasonably possible, but in any event within 30 days, after the request is received or transferred, notify the requester of that extension.
  3. The notice in terms of subsection (2) must state –
    1. the period of the extension;
    2. adequate reasons for the extension, including the provisions of this Act relied upon; and
    3. that the requester may lodge an internal appeal, complaint to the Information Regulator or an application with a court, as the case may be, against the extension, and the procedure (including the period) for lodging the internal appeal, complaint to the Information Regulator or application, as the case may be.

Section 28 | Severability

  1. If a request for access is made to a record of a public body containing information which may or must be refused in terms of any provision of Chapter 4 of this Part, every part of the record which –
    1. does not contain; and
    2. can reasonably be severed from any part that contains,
      any such information must, despite any other provision of this Act, be disclosed.
  2. If a request for access to –
    1. a part of a record is granted; and
    2. the other part of the record is refused,
      as contemplated in subsection (1), the provisions of section 25(2), apply to paragraph (a) of this subsection and the provisions of section 25(3) apply to paragraph (b) of this subsection.

Section 31 | Language of access

A requester whose request for access to a record of a public body has been granted must, if the record –

a) exists in the language that the requester prefers, be given access in that language; or

b) does not exist in the language so preferred or the requester has no preference or has not indicated a preference, be given access in any language the record exists in.