South Africa: A Recent Court Ruling Could See Many Dark Apartheid-Era Secrets Coming to Light


Good news and glimmers of hope are in short supply these days. This is perhaps all the more reason to take note of a recent precedent-setting court judgement. In the past week, feisty pint-sized civil society organisations prevailed against the mighty South African Reserve Bank. It was a judgment that significantly boosts our hard-won democratic right to know.

In a judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on Friday 29 May, the South African History Archive (SAHA) prevailed in a six-year battle for access to information. SAHA and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) faced one another before the SCA in Bloemfontein in an epic battle centred on the release of apartheid-era records. SAHA was represented by an indefatigable legal team led by Lawyers for Human Rights and advocates Geoff Budlender SC, Nasreen Rajab-Budlender and Frances Hobden.

SAHA's appeal was not only to ensure access to these records, but also to ultimately secure the right of access to information for all South Africans - something that was on shaky ground after an earlier judgement by the South Gauteng High Court.

The SCA judgment, upheld with costs, is particularly important as it signals a tremendous victory for...

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