State security concerned about info bill

State security said the inclusion of a public interest defence clause would render the POIB unworkable.

A Right2Know campaigner protests against the Protection of State Information Bill. Picture: Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The Department of State Security on Wednesday said the inclusion of a public interest defence clause would render the Protection of State Information Bill (POIB) unworkable.

The department was responding to Parliament on recent public hearings regarding the proposed bill.

The ad hoc committee on POIB went through the bill clause-by-clause and is expected to table proposed amendments.

The acting deputy director general of state security, Dennis Dlomo, responded to proposals to amend the bill.

The department listed its key issues and concerns which, among others, is the public interest defence clause.

Dlomo submitted that a pre-disclosure test be the main approach to whistleblowers.

In the presentation, the department submitted the whistleblower could not be a sub-judicator in their own case.

Dlomo said the severity of penalties was misconstrued by the media.

The controversial bill was passed by Parliament in November, despite criticism from opposition parties and organisations such as the Right2Know Campaign.

Critics of the bill are calling for the inclusion of the public defence clause, which would prevent whistleblowers from facing 15 years in prison.

Opposition parties have been educating their supporters about the bill, which they believe may be used to cover up corruption.

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosioua Lekota in May said there was no need for the bill as there was no threat to state security.

Lekota compared the proposed bill to legislation that had anti-apartheid activists and leaders detained.