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Section 32 of the Constitution states:

“Everyone has a right of access to any information held by the state and any information held by another person that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.”

The Promotion of Access to Information Act, No. 2 of 2000 (PAIA) was enacted to give effect to the constitutional right of access to information. PAIA came into operation on 9 March 2001.

In terms of the Constitution and PAIA, all people in South Africa, including non-nationals, can request information from public and private bodies.

  • To promote transparency, accountability and effective governance of all public and private bodies
  • To assist members of the public to effectively scrutinize and participate in decision making by public bodies
  • To ensure that the state promotes a human rights culture and social justice
  • To encourage openness
  • To establish voluntary and mandatory mechanisms or procedures which give effect to the right of access to information in a speedy, inexpensive and effortless manner
Other SAHRC publications
Tel: (011) 877 3645
Email addresses:

Tshepang Sebulela – tsebulela@sahrc.org.za

Other publications
Protection of Personal Information Act
In 2013, President Zuma signed the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) into law. The commencement date of POPI is still to be determined by the President. However, the President has signed a proclamation declaring certain parts of POPI as operational.

POPI seeks to control the processing of personal information by both public and private bodies. Processing means anything done with the personal information of a person, including collection, usage, storage, dissemination, modification or destruction.

Information Regulator
  • POPI establishes an Information Regulator (IR). In terms POPI, the Information Regulator is an independent body and once established, will be accountable to the National Assembly of Parliament.
  • The IR can receive complaints from both requesters and third parties in terms of PAIA.
  • The IR will have powers to investigate complaints relating to non-compliance with POPI and PAIA.
  • All powers and responsibilities currently being performed by the Commission in terms of PAIA will be taken over by the IR once that office has been established i.e. all section 32 reports, section 14 manuals and section 51 manuals will have to be submitted to the IR.

About us

Understanding PAIA

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Sentinel House, Sunnyside Office Park, 32 Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)