On 22 January 2015, Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr's Pro Bono and Human Rights practice received notice from the State Attorney that the Minister of Police and the SAPS' National Deputy Information Officer had withdrawn their application for leave to appeal the recent decision of the High Court, granting the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and the South African History Archives Trust (SAHA)) access to the list of National Key Points declared in terms of the National Key Points Act (the Key Points Act).
Jacquie Cassette, the Head of the Probono and Human Rights Practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, who represented the R2K and SAHA in this case, explains, “In his judgment Sutherland J had declared the decision by the respondents to refuse access to the list to be unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered them to supply all the names of places or areas that have been declared Key Points within 30 days of the judgment. He also ordered that they pay the costs of the application including the costs of two counsel.
“The withdrawal of the application for leave to appeal means that Sutherland J's judgment now stands and pursuant to his order we yesterday finally received a list of places that have been declared National Key Points. This list has been forwarded to our clients R2K and SAHA,” Cassette explains.
“In his judgment, which made some key findings concerning the application of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) and its proper interpretation, Sutherland J had also rejected the Minister and the Deputy Information Officer's contention that the list could not be revealed in the interests of national security. He found that no evidence had been adduced to support their allegations about threats to national security,” she explains.
According to Sutherland J, the "rationale offered by the respondents [was] spoilt by the conduct of the Government itself, because evidence was adduced of ministers having furnished details of key points to Parliament for the whole world to know. . ."
Sutherland J concluded that given the serious allegations concerning abuse of the Key Points Act and the failure to set up a special account for the recovery of public moneys expended on securing Key Points of owners (who by law were required to bear the costs of securing them) there was a need for transparency in order to repair public confidence.
“The withdrawal of the application for leave to appeal and the disclosure of the list of Key Points is accordingly a small but an important victory for the principle of transparency upon which our democracy depends,” Cassette adds.