Mahaeeane Mahaeene and Motlajsi Thakaso (the “Appellants”) were both previously employed by AngloGold Ashanti Limited (the “Respondent”) in its mining operations.
The Appellants were medically boarded by the Respondent based on the ground that they had contracted silicosis, Silicosis is disease commonly found in miners who are exposed to harmful quantities of silica dust. The Appellants were later dismissed by the Respondent on the ground they had contracted silicosis.
The Appellants sought to be certified as included persons in a class action suit against the Respondent, for not adequately protecting the Appellants rights a safe working environment.
The Appellants launched an application under section 50 of The Promotion of Access to Information Act No 2 of 200 (“PAIA”) in order to determine if the Respondent had taken the following steps:
1) create a safe working environment in its mines;
2) complied with its statutory health and safety duties; and
3) taken steps to monitor the health of its employees.
The Respondent contends that the Appellants never met the requirements of section 50 of PAIA, and thus, the Respondent never had a right under PAIA to access the requested documents.
Were the records requested by the Appellants reasonably required in order to exercise or protect the right relied upon?
The Appellants had not satisfied the test in terms of section 50 of the PAIA, which states, “there must be prima facie be established that access to the record is required to exercise or protect the right relied upon”. Furthermore, the Appellants had the option of following the procedures outlined in rule 35 of the uniform rules of the court.
In the court a quo it was held, there was alternative legislation available to the Appellants to obtain the records requested by the Appellants, and the records requested were not reasonably required in order to calculate the quantum of damages.
The Supreme court of Appeal (the “SCA”) upheld the court a quo’s decision and dismissed the application.
Section 50 of PAIA is not enforceable in a litigious matter, where the aggrieved party has the option to discover evidence through the procedure provided in terms of rule 35 of the Uniform Rules of the court.