Access to information organisations didn’t have a very celebratory Human Rights Day. Two days earlier, on March 19, Judge Elias Matojane ruled against the SA History Archive (Saha), its attorneys from Lawyers for Human Rights, and Open Secrets in a case against the SA Reserve Bank. The trust had brought an action against the central bank as it refused to provide financial information on unsavoury apartheid-era crooks, in particular Brigadier Johann Blaauw, Robert Oliver Hill and Vito Palazzolo. They are all considered to be substantial contributors to the economic crimes of apartheid. Many of these requests were originally made to collect information for the book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, written by Open Secrets head Hennie van Vuuren. Though the Bank is not a law enforcement agency it can investigate economic crimes relevant to its mandate of maintaining the currency, such as fraud or gold smuggling. Matojane argued in his ruling that Saha’s request, made under th...

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