National key points must be public - R2K

2013-09-10 20:29
Luthuli House

Luthuli House

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Johannesburg - The Right2Know Campaign and the SA History Archive (Saha) have served the police minister and the defence minister with court papers to gain access to a list of national key points.

"This follows nearly a year of campaigning to make the list of national key points public," R2K and Saha said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The court papers were filed on 5 September.

R2K national spokesperson Murray Hunter said its attorneys had indicated that the ministers had 15 days from receiving the papers to indicate whether they would challenge the matter in court.

He said R2K had been trying for almost a year to make the list of national key points public.

In October, Saha made a request, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Paia), for the police to release the list, but they refused.

An internal appeal against the decision was turned down, R2K and Saha said in the statement.

"We are, therefore, left with no other choice but to go to court in order to obtain the list," they said.

The organisations said the National Key Points Act was a relic of the apartheid era, which promoted arbitrary and anti-democratic secrecy.

"It empowers the minister of police to declare any place to be a 'national key point', giving it special security and excessive secrecy for 'national security' reasons."

They claimed that the number of declared national key points had increased from 118 to 197 in the past five years.

Protest

On Monday, R2K protesters were told they could not protest outside Chief Albert Luthuli House in Johannesburg as it had been declared a national key point for the day because President Jacob Zuma was there.

Police ministry spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said its office had no record of the court papers. He said the National Key Points Act was set down for debate in Parliament next week.

"It was supposed to take place this week. However, due to the bereavement in the minister's family [his mother passed on and was buried this past weekend] the debate was then rescheduled," he said.

In 2007, a draft national key points bill was developed and when it progressed to the National Economic Development and Labour Council process, certain issues prevented the processing of the bill, said Mnisi.

He said that during his budget vote in May, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced that he had requested his legal team to relook at the bill to begin the process of "refining it and introducing it to Parliament".

"The main objective is to re-align the National Key Points Act with the Constitution and other pieces of legislation," said Mnisi.

"In terms of Section 6 (1) of the National Key Points Act, he [Mthethwa] had appointed an advisory committee on national key points to assist him in evaluating, auditing and assessing the desirability of all national key points, to determine how these should be aligned to constitutional prescripts."

The team had finalised its report and the bill would be introduced in Parliament before the end of this financial year.

Read more on:    police  |  jacob zuma  |  nathi mthethwa  |  johannesburg  |  security

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