Police minister ordered to hand over national key point list

The judge said Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko's refusal to release the list was unlawful and unconstitutional. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The judge said Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko's refusal to release the list was unlawful and unconstitutional. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Johannesburg high court on Wednesday ordered Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko to hand over the list of national key points and national key point complexes in the next 30 days to the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) and the South African History Archive.

Judge Roland Sutherland said Nhleko’s refusal to release the list was unlawful and unconstitutional, and ordered the ministry to pay the legal costs of R2K and the South African History Archive.

National key points are protected at present from being photographed or identified as key points. These include military installations and other buildings or complexes that are considered strategic. It is said there are about 200 national key points on the list.

The South African History Archive and R2K wanted the national key points to be made public in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
They said the “blanket secrecy over which sites have been declared national key points has helped officials and politicians use and abuse the Act to undermine our constitutional rights”.

The public were told in January this year that President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home, on which R246-million was spent on security upgrades, was a national key point, which justified the high level of security upgrades required. Apparently all current and former presidents’ homes are on the list.

Viwe Notshe, appearing for the state, said that, although the National Key Point Act did not prohibit disclosure, such disclosure would put the country’s defence and security at risk.

Matseleng Lekoane, friend of the court for the Mail & Guardian, said it was important for journalists to know where the national key points were to avoid contravening the law. 

The amended apartheid-era National Key Point Act of 1985 will remain on the statute book. R2K said the number of buildings, facilities and places listed has grown by 70%.

R2K Gauteng co-ordinator Dale McKinley said they were obviously pleased with the judgment. “We feel great at the moment. It’s very important that the court found in our favour.” 

“Now we need to see if the police ministry will appeal the judgment,” he said.

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