Acting Judge SS Madiba, in ordering the police to furnish Benny Nkuna with the reasons as to why his application was turned down, said it was the right of a person to be provided with information held by a public body concerning him or her.
This right, he said, was enshrined in the Constitution.
Nkuna said he wrote numerous letters to the police for reasons as to why his application was not accepted, but he was told that they did not need to give him any answers. He turned to the court in desperation.
Nkuna said, in papers before court, that in December 2016 he applied for the post of brigadier and he was shortlisted. He was again called for an interview and he made a presentation.
The police at first did not announce the outcome of his application, and he was later told that he was unsuccessful and that the post was not being filled.
He then wrote letters to the police in which he asked for reasons why he was not appointed and why the post was not being filled. He wanted to obtain this information in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). He said he was deprived of his constitutional rights by the police as they would not give him the reasons.
A Lieutenant-General Matakata, who was in charge of the interviews, eventually responded that she did not need to give him reasons.
Judge Madiba said everyone had the right of access to any information held by the State, except in certain instances such as if it posed a security risk or if the request was frivolous or vexatious.
The police, on the other hand, said Nkuna's application was premature and that he could have appealed its refusal to give him the information. The police further said that as the post was not filled, it owed him no answers.
But Judge Madiba said Nkuna had no option but to turn to court as he received no answers from the police. He said it would also not help Nkuna to try to appeal the refusal internally, as it was clearly going to be a fruitless exercise.
He said the police had a prerogative to decide to fill any vacancy or not, but it is expected that it should provide reasons for its decisions.
“Candidates interviewed are entitled to be advised of the outcome of the interviews and reasons taken to appoint or not,” the judge said.
He found that there were no justifiable reasons for the police to withhold the information and ordered that the police had to supply him with the full reasons as to why he failed his interview.