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National Key Points to be made public

The High Court has ruled that a list of 200 National Key Points must be made public in 30 days.

R2K member protesting and singing outside court on 24 November 2014. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Johannesburg has ruled that a list of 200 National Key Points must be made public in 30 days.

The case was brought to court by the Right2Know (R2K) campaign challenging the Police Ministry's refusal to reveal where these points are.

National Key Points are protected from being photographed or identified as key points, and are understood to include military installations, services or factories which are considered strategic.

Judge Roland Sutherland didn't elaborate in his ruling, but ordered the Police Ministry hand over the list to the campaign and the South African History Archive by early January.

The ministry argued that by revealing the names of the National Key Points, it will compromise the country's security.

But the R2K's lawyer argued more than 20 percent of the names are already in the public domain as ministers in Parliament regularly reveal the locations.

Earlier this month, Judge Sutherland questioned why the names of the Key Points are being kept secret, saying he's astonished because the National Key Points Act of 1980 never indicated that this list must be confidential.

The Campaign says more areas are being declared National Key Points and the public is being kept in the dark.

The court reserved judgment last week after listening to arguments over whether the list must be disclosed.

The R2K's Murray Hunter said it's in the interest of the public to know where these areas are.

"The Constitution will always look at the balance between secrecy and access to information and almost always rules in the favour of access to information. Many of the National Key Points are actually publicly known."

In 2012, police refused to release a list of sites protected by the Act, citing security concerns.

But R2K says government has recently used the Act to shield state entities like the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and Eskom from protest and criticism.