PAJA

Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act 3 of 2000)

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INFORMATION FOR CITIZENS

The right to just administrative action is your basic human right.

The Constitution guarantees that administrative action will be reasonable, lawful and procedurally fair. It also makes sure that you have the right to request reasons for administrative action that negatively affects you.

The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) gives effect to these rights. It also provides for review of administrative action by a court or tribunal.

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS:

  1. Form: Request for Reasons
  2. Form: Request for a prior notice and the opportunity to make representations before the decision is made

What can I expect from the administration?
When you apply for something (e.g. a social grant) or when the administration decides to request something from you, you can now expect to be:

  • Told what decision is being planned before it is taken;
  • Allowed to tell your side of the story before a decision is made;
  • Told what the decision is and of your right to internal appeal or review;
  • Told that you have the right to request reasons;
  • Given proper written reasons for the decision; and
  • Able to challenge the decision in court.

What can I do?
If you think that the administrative decision taken against you might be wrong, you can:

  1. Request reasons from the administration , and if you are not satisfied with them:
  2. Use internal appeal procedure if there is one,
  3. Go to court or
  4. Use other remedies

1. Request reasons

When can I request reasons?
You can request reasons for any decision that negatively affects your rights. Sometimes, these reasons will be given without you having to request them. If not, you must request them within 90 days of finding out the decision.

How do I request reasons?
Requests must:

  • Be in writing;
  • Say what decision you are requesting reasons for;
  • Say why you think the decision is wrong;
  • Include your name, postal address, email address, fax and telephone numbers; and
  • Be sent by post, fax, email or delivered by hand.

If you cannot write, ask a friend, relative or paralegal to help you. You can also ask someone at the department to write your request for you.

What reasons will I be given?
Administrators must tell you how they reached their decision. If you have asked questions, these must be answered. Of course, this does not mean that they have to convince you that their decision was correct.

When can I expect to receive reasons?
You must be given reasons within 90 days of the administrator receiving the request.

Can reason be given verbally?
No, they must be in writing. But, if you are given reasons verbally and you are happy with this, then there is no problem. If you are not, you can demand reasons in writing.


2. Use internal appeal procedure

When can I use an internal appeal procedure?
Some departments give you an internal appeal. For example, the Department of Home Affairs has an Appeal Board. If someone applies for asylum seeker status and is refused, they can appeal to this Board.You must use any internal appeal before taking any other action. The department must tell you how to do this and how long you have to make the appeal.


3. When can I go to court?
If there is no internal appeal procedure, or if you have used it and are still not satisfied, you can ask a court to review the decision. This must be done:

  • Within 6 months of any internal appeal having been decided.
  • (Where there is no internal appeal) within 6 months of finding out the decision.

4. Are there any other remedies?
Taking a matter on review is expensive. Luckily, there are cheaper ways of finding assistance, such as Internal Appeals.

Use the internal appeal process, if there is one. Usually, this is free. See what you can do at the local level. For instance, you could:

  • Ask a constituency office of a political party in your area for help;
  • Complain to the area or regional manager of the department concerned; or
  • Complain to your Ward Counsellor or Provincial MEC of the relevant department.

Write to the relevant Minister or Director-General
Find out which Minister is in charge of the department and write a letter to them (or the Director-General of the department) telling them what your problem is.

NGOs, CBOs and Paralegals
There are many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community based organisations (CBOs) and paralegals in South Africa that can help. Most will do so for free. Check in your community whether there are any you can ask for assistance.

The Public Protector
Where it looks like there has been corruption involved in the decision, you can ask the Public Protector for assistance. This is provided free of charge. Call the Public Protector, toll free, on 0800-112-040

Human Rights Advice Line
0860-120-120A share call number for information, advice or help on human rights. Office hours, Mon - Friday.The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) working in partnership with Rights Africa.

Legal Aid Board and Justice Centres
If there is a Justice Centre in your area they will help you free of charge. If there is not yet a Justice Centre then ask the Legal Aid officer at the nearest Court to give you a lawyer free of charge to help you. Call the Legal Aid Board on 012-481-2700, or visit their offices at any court near you.


What is administrative action?
The administration is made up of:

  • All government departments;
  • The police and army; and
  • Parastatals, like ESKOM, Telkom and the SABC.

Any decision the administration takes that affects people's rights is an administrative action.

EXAMPLES:
When a person applies for a disability grant or old age pension, the provincial Department of Welfare must decide whether or not to award it. This decision is an administrative action. Other examples are:

  • Applying for an ID or birth certificate
  • Applying for a first time home owners subsidy
  • Applying for a work or residence permit
  • Applying for refugee or asylum seeker status