Independent Newspapers, owners of 14 publications across South Africa, has taken Safety and Security Minister Steve Tshwete to court over his refusal to release police crime statistics.

Lawyers for group asked the Cape High Court on Tuesday to declare Tshwete's moratorium unconstitutional. An order directing the minister to release information on crimes relating to hijackings on Cape Town's N2 freeway from last June to date has also been sought.

Tshwete has until March 2 to oppose the application.

The court application followed last month's killing of Bertie Louw, who was killed while trying to fix his bakkie on the N2.