The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) filed papers on Thursday in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in an attempt to force Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi to disclose the details of public spending at President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla estate.
It had filed a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act in July for details of the "procurement by the state of goods or services to improve, upgrade, alter, add to or secure the Nkandla estate of the president".
The request made it clear that only information relating to the "financial implications" and not "the technical detail of security-sensitive improvements" was sought, but public works director general Mandisa Fatyela-Lindie turned it down on the basis that the estate was a "national key point" and the information classified.
The centre appealed to Nxesi in September, pointing out that the response did not comply with the access to information Act. But Nxesi has failed to respond, despite the Act specifying a 30-day limit.
AmaBhungane joint managing partner Stefaans Brümmer said the court application was brought in the public interest. "This is to get to the bottom of how massive amounts of public money got to be spent at Nkandla. It is also to challenge the minister and his department's blatant disregard for a constitutionally mandated Act of Parliament."
Attorneys Webber Wentzel are acting for amaBhungane.
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