In South Africa, information is a right, not a privilege. Section 32 of the Constitution of South Africa provides that everyone has the right to access any information held by both the state and private bodies. The legislation that gives effect to this right is the Promotion of Access to Information Act or ‘PAIA’.
In partnership with the South African Human Rights Commission, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), partner organisation of the Bertha Justice Initiative, has produced a short film on access to information, Breaking the Steel Wall. The documentary was developed as an advocacy tool to give a practical example of how communities in South Africa can use PAIA to access information. The film incorporates alternative forms of storytelling and media into the human rights work that CALS does, and is now available in two official languages: English and isiZulu.
Breaking the Steel Wall tracks the journey of communities trying to access information from ArcelorMittal South Africa, the self-styled largest steel producer in Africa. In the documentary, the Steel Valley and Louisrus communities explain how pollution from a steel mill in the area has negatively affected the health of the community members and their animals. It follows their efforts to access documents from the steel giant, and gives a practical guide to using the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
We plan to use the film in workshops with communities, making the law more accessible and enabling them to make their own access to information requests.
Watch the documentary here.
Intern at CALS
Intern at CALS
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