File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Cape Town - A court ruling regarding the disclosure of court papers in the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway project was welcomed by the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on Friday.

“This is a landmark judgment with implications for the disclosure of any administrative record in the future and is particularly relevant for future challenges against state institutions during the tender process,” Sanral CEO Nazir Alli said in a statement.

He was pleased Sanral and its preferred bidder, Protea Parkways Consortium (PPC), were afforded protection.

On Thursday, the Western Cape High Court dismissed applications by Sanral and PPC to redact the city of Cape Town's supplementary founding papers.

Sanral had wanted the relevant parts to be redacted, while PPC wanted certain parts to be redacted and placed in a “confidential” file out of reach of the public.

Judge Ashley Binns-Ward said the city could file its papers per normal court procedure, but that no one could disseminate or publish the administrative record or any affidavit in the supplementary papers before the review hearing. No review date had yet been set.

The city's transport mayoral committee member Brett Herron said Sanral's media release on the judgment was misleading in that the agency did not achieve the order it was looking for.

“Their application, if granted, would effectively have removed crucial information about the impact of the proposed tolling from the public realm and would have meant the withholding of this information from the very people directly affected.”

Herron said the order would allow the full supplementary papers to become part of the public record once the matter was called to court.

The Right2Know campaign and Section 16 were surprised the court had made use of the “implied undertaking rule”.

“This means that, until documents are presented in open court, no journalist or other interested party can access the documents, except on a formal application to court,” the campaign's Alison Tilley said.

“This will severely restrict the ability of the media to report on this matter, or for a public debate on the issue to be held.”