Cape Town - The acting Minister of Police has upheld a police decision to refuse to release a list of National Key Points, which include President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.
Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele, who is acting for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, said that releasing this information could aid “culprits” who want to harm the president or others protected by the act.
Cwele added that the majority of the country’s 200 or so National Key Points were privately owned and not under the government’s control.
He gave his reasons not to release the information in a letter to the campaign Right2Know, which asked for its release under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
A few months ago the police refused to give the same information. Right2Know then appealed to Mthethwa to reconsider the decision.
In a letter dated February 28, signed by Cwele, he said areas considered National Key Points were places like banks, “munitions industries”, petrochemical industries, electricity and government institutions.
“It must be noted that there are 200 places or areas which have been declared National Key Points. The majority… are not government-owned and therefore there (is) personal information of numerous third parties involved in the request. The fact that a place or area is the property of a certain person qualifies as personal information of such person.”
He said to provide the information or access to records could jeopardise tactics used to protect certain individuals.
If a person wanted to cause harm, the fact that certain places were considered National Key Points would “be an aid to such culprits in such plans”.
“The National Key Points include different places or areas which are extremely important and its loss, damage, disruption or immobilisation may prejudice the republic or its safety…” said Cwele.
Right2Know’s Mark Weinberg called the rejection a “blatant refusal to protect the constitutional right to know”.
“In terms of the PAIA, the Right2Know Campaign has 180 days in which to approach a court in response to this decision. There have also been calls for a series of pickets outside suspected National Key Points to highlight the senselessness of keeping the list secret,” said Weinberg.
He said this would be a central part of discussions at the Right2Know National Summit in Durban from Friday to Sunday.
“What is certain is that a secret law is by definition an unjust law; a law that violates your right to know which laws govern you, and which freedoms are yours to enjoy,” said Weinberg.
The Right2Know campaign has an ally in Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin, who told Parliament last month that it should consider changing the apartheid-era National Key Points Act because it was contrary to the values of a democratic country.