Section 1 | Definitions

In this Act, unless the context otherwise indicates –

access fee” means a fee prescribed for the purposes of section 22(6) or 54(6), as the case may be;

application” means an application to a court in terms of section 78;

biometrics” means a technique of personal identification that is based on physical, physiological or behavioural characterisation including blood typing, fingerprinting, DNA analysis, retinal scanning and voice recognition;

Constitution” means the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act No.108 of 1996);

court” means –

a) the Constitutional Court acting in terms of section 167(6)(a) of the Constitution; or

b)

i) a High Court or another court of similar status; or

ii) a Magistrate’s Court for any district or for any regional division established by the Minister for the purposes of adjudicating civil disputes in terms of section 2 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act, 1944 (Act No. 32 of 1944), either generally or in respect of a specified class of decisions in terms of this Act, designated by the Minister by notice in the Gazette and presided over by a magistrate, an additional magistrate or a magistrate of a regional division established for the purposes of adjudicating civil disputes, as the case may be, designated in terms of section 91A,

within whose area of jurisdiction –

aa) the decision of the information officer or relevant authority of the public body or the head of a private body has been taken;

bb) the public body or private body concerned has its principal place of administration or business; or

cc) the requester or third party concerned is domiciled or ordinarily resident;

“evaluative material” means an evaluation or opinion prepared for the purpose of determining –

a) the suitability, eligibility or qualifications of the person to whom or which the evaluation or opinion relates –

i) for employment or for appointment to office;

ii) for promotion in employment or office or for continuance in employment or office;

iii) for removal from employment or office; or

iv) for the awarding of a scholarship, award, bursary, honour or similar benefit; or

b) whether any scholarship, award, bursary, honour or similar benefit should be continued, modified, cancelled or renewed;

“head” of, or in relation to, a private body means—

a) in the case of a natural person, including a person referred to in paragraph (c) of the definition of “political party”, that natural person or any person duly authorised by that natural person;

b) in the case of a partnership, any partner of the partnership or any person duly authorised by the partnership;

c) in the case of a juristic person—

i) the chief executive officer or equivalent officer of the juristic person or any person duly authorised by that officer; or

ii) the person who is acting as such or any person duly authorised by such acting person; or

d) in the case of political party, the leader of the political party or any person duly authorised by that leader;

“health practitioner” means an individual who carries on, and is registered in terms of legislation to carry on, an occupation which involves the provision of care or treatment for the physical or mental health or for the well-being of individuals;

“individual’s next of kin” means –

a) an individual to whom the individual was married immediately before the individual’s death;

b) an individual with whom the individual lived as if they were married immediately before the individual’s death;

c) a parent, child, brother or sister of the individual; or

d) if –

i) there is no next of kin referred to in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c); or

ii) the requester concerned took all reasonable steps to locate such next of kin, but was unsuccessful, an individual who is related to the individual in the second degree of affinity or consanguinity;

information officer of, or in relation to, a public body –

a) in the case of a national department, provincial administration or organisational component –

i) mentioned in Column 1 of Schedule 1 or 3 to the Public Service Act, 1994 (Proclamation No. 103 of 1994), means the officer who is the incumbent of the post bearing the designation mentioned in Column 2 of the said Schedule 1 or 3 opposite the name of the relevant national department, provincial administration or organisational component or the person who is acting as such; or

ii) not so mentioned, means the Director-General, head, executive director or equivalent officer, respectively, of that national department, provincial administration or organisational component, respectively, or the person who is acting as such;
(Definition of “information officer” substituted by section 21 of Act 42 of 2001)

b) in the case of a municipality, means the municipal manager appointed in terms of section 82 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998 (Act No. 117 of 1998), or the person who is acting as such; or

c) in the case of any other public body, means the chief executive officer, or equivalent officer, of that public body or the person who is acting as such;

Information Regulator means the Information Regulator established in terms of section 39 of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013;

internal appeal means an internal appeal to the relevant authority in terms of section 74;

“international organisation” means an international organisation –

(a) of states; or

(b) established by the governments of states;

“Minister” means the Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice;

“notice” means notice in writing, and “notify” and “notified” have corresponding meanings;

objects of this Actmeans the objects of this Act referred to in section 9;

“official”, in relation to a public or private body, means –

(a) any person in the employ (permanently or temporarily and full-time or part-time) of the public or private body, as the case may be, including the head of the body, in his or her capacity as such; or

(b) a member of the public or private body, in his or her capacity as such;

“person” means a natural person or a juristic person;

“personal information” means information relating to an identifiable natural person, including, but not
limited to—

(a) information relating to the race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, national, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental health, well-being, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth of the person;

(b) information relating to the education or the medical, financial, criminal or employment history of the person;

(c) any identifying number, symbol, email address, physical address, telephone number, location information, online identifier or other particular assigned to the person;

(d) the biometric information of the person;

(e) the personal opinions, views or preferences of the person;

(f) correspondence sent by the person that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature or further correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence;

(g) the views or opinions of another individual about the person; and

(h) the name of the person if it appears with other personal information relating to the person or if the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the person,

but excludes information about an individual who has been dead for more than 20 years;

“political party” means—

(a) any entity that accepts donations principally to support or oppose any registered political party or its candidates, in an election as defined in section 1 of the Electoral Act, 1998 (Act No. 73 of 1998);

(b) any registered political party as defined in the Electoral Act, 1998; or

(c) a natural person who is an independent candidate;

prescribed means prescribed by regulation in terms of section 92;

“private body” means –

(a) a natural person who carries or has carried on any trade, business or profession, but only in such capacity;

(b) a partnership which carries or has carried on any trade, business or profession;

(c) any former or existing juristic person; or

(d) a political party,

but excludes a public body;

“public safety or environmental risk” means harm or risk to the environment or the public (including individuals in their workplace) associated with –

(a) a product or service which is available to the public;

(b) a substance released into the environment, including, but not limited to, the workplace;

(c) a substance intended for human or animal consumption;

(d) a means of public transport; or

(e) an installation or manufacturing process or substance which is used in that installation or process;

“public body” means –

(a) any department of state or administration in the national or provincial sphere of government or any municipality in the local sphere of government; or

(b) any other functionary or institution when –

(i) exercising a power or performing a duty in terms of the Constitution or a provincial constitution; or

(ii) exercising a public power or performing a public function in terms of any legislation;

record of, or in relation to, a public or private body, means any recorded information –

(a) regardless of form or medium;

(b) in the possession or under the control of that public or private body, respectively; and

(c) whether or not it was created by that public or private body, respectively;

“relevant authority”, in relation to –

(a) a public body referred to in paragraph (a) of the definition of “public body” in the national sphere of government, means –

(i) in the case of the Office of the Presidency, the person designated in writing by the President; or

(ii) in any other case, the Minister responsible for that public body or the person designated in writing by that Minister;

(b) a public body referred to in paragraph (a) of the definition of “public body” in the provincial sphere or government, means –

(i) in the case of the Office of a Premier, the person designated in writing by the Premier; or

(ii) in any other case, the member of the Executive Council responsible for that public body or the person designated in writing by that member; or

(c) a municipality, means –

(i) the mayor;

(ii) the speaker; or

(iii) any other person,

designated in writing by the Municipal Council of that municipality;

“request for access”, in relation to –

(a) a public body, means a request for access to a record of a public body in terms of section 11; or

(b) a private body, means a request for access to a record of a private body in terms of section 50;

“requester” in relation to –

(a) a public body, means –

(i) any person (other than a public body contemplated in paragraph (a) or (b)(i) of the definition of “public body”, or an official thereof) making a request for access to a record of that public body; or

(ii) a person acting on behalf of the person referred to in subparagraph (i);

(b) a private body, means –

(i) any person, including, but not limited to, a public body or an official thereof, making a request for access to a record of that private body; or

(ii) a person acting on behalf of the person contemplated in subparagraph (i);

“subversive or hostile activities” means –

(a) aggression against the Republic;

(b) sabotage or terrorism aimed at the people of the Republic or a strategic asset of the Republic, whether inside or outside the Republic;

(c) an activity aimed at changing the constitutional order of the Republic by the use of force or violence; or

(d) a foreign or hostile intelligence operation;

“third party”, in relation to a request for access to –

(a) a record of a public body, means any person (including, but not limited to, the government of a foreign state, an international organisation or an organ of that government or organisation) other than –

(i) the requester concerned; and
(ii) a public body; or

(b) a record of a private body, means any person (including, but not limited to, a public body) other than the requester,
but, for the purposes of sections 34 and 63, the reference to “person” in paragraphs (a) and (b) must be construed as a reference to “natural person”;

“this Act” includes any regulation made and in force in terms of section 92;

transfer, in relation to a record, means transfer in terms of section 20(1) or (2), and “transferred” has a corresponding meaning;

“working days” means any days other than Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays, as defined in section 1 of the Public Holidays Act, 1994 (Act No. 36 of 1994).

Section 13 | Body determined to be part of another public body

For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may, on his or her own accord or on the request of the relevant public body or bodies or a body referred to in paragraph (c), by notice in the Gazette – 

(a) determine that a public body is to be regarded as part of another public body; 

(b) determine that a category of public bodies is to be regarded as one public body with such information officer as the Minister designates; and 

(c) if there is doubt as to whether a body is a separate public body or forms part of a public body, determine that the body – 

(i) is a separate public body; or
(ii) forms part of a public body. 

Section 17 | Designation of deputy information officers, and delegation

(1) For the purposes of this Act, each public body must, subject to legislation governing the employment of personnel of the public body concerned, designate such number of persons as deputy information officers as are necessary to render the public body as accessible as reasonably possible for requesters of its records. 

(2) The information officer of a public body has direction and control over every deputy information officer of that body. 

(3) The information officer of a public body may delegate a power or duty conferred or imposed on that information officer by this Act to a deputy information officer of that public body. 

(4) In deciding whether to delegate a power or duty in terms of subsection (3), the information officer must give due consideration to the need to render the public body as accessible as reasonably possible for requesters of its records. 

(5) Any power or duty delegated in terms of subsection (3) must be exercised or performed subject to such conditions as the person who made the delegation considers necessary. 

(6) Any delegation in terms of subsection (3) – 

(a) must be in writing 

(b) does not prohibit the person who made the delegation from exercising the power concerned or performing the duty concerned himself or herself; and 

(c) may at any time be withdrawn or amended in writing by that person. 

(7) Any right or privilege acquired, or any obligation or liability incurred, as a result of a decision in terms of a delegation in terms of subsection (3) is not affected by any subsequent withdrawal or amendment of that decision. 

Section 20 | Transfer of requests

(1) If a request for access is made to the information officer of a public body in respect of which – 

(a) the record is not in the possession or under the control of that body but is in the possession of another public body; 

(b) the record’s subject matter is more closely connected with the functions of another public body than those of the public body of the information officer to whom the request is made; or 

(c) the record contains commercial information contemplated in section 42 in which any other public body has a greater commercial interest,

the information officer to whom the request is made must as soon as reasonably possible, but in any event within 14 days after the request is received – 

(i) transfer the request to the information officer of the other public body or, if there is in the case of paragraph (c) more than one other public body having a commercial interest, the other public body with the greatest commercial interest; and 

(ii) if the public body of the information officer to whom the request is made is in possession of the record and considers it helpful to do so to enable the information officer of the other public body to deal with the request, send the record or a copy of the record to that information officer. 

(2) If a request for access is made to the information officer of a public body in respect of which – 

(a) the record is not in the possession or under the control of the public body of that information officer and the information officer does not know which public body has possession or control of the record; 

(b) the record’s subject matter is not closely connected to the functions of the public body of that information officer and the information officer does not know whether the record is more closely connected with the functions of another public body than those of the public body of the information officer to whom the request is made; and 

(c) the record- 

(i) was created by or for another public body; or 

(ii) was not so created by or for any public body, but was received first by another public body, 

the information officer to whom the request is made, must as soon as reasonably possible, but in any event within 14 days after the request is received, transfer the request to the information officer of the public body by or for which the record was created or which received it first, as the case may be. 

(3) Subject to subsection (4), the information officer to whom a request for access is transferred, must give priority to that request in relation to other requests as if it were received by him or her on the date it was received by the information officer who transferred the request. 

(4) If a request for access is transferred, any period referred to in section 25(1) must be computed from the date the request is received by the information officer to whom the request is transferred. 

(5) Upon the transfer of a request for access, the information officer making the transfer must immediately notify the requester of – 

(a) the transfer; 

(b) the reasons for the transfer; and 

(c) the period within which the request must be dealt with.