FAQ Records Management
The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act, 1996 (Act No. 43 of 1996 as amended), defines a record as recorded information regardless of form or medium. Examples of form are correspondence files, maps, plans, registers, etc. Examples of media are paper, microfilm or electronic format.
The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act, 1996 (Act No. 43 of 1996 as amended), defines a public record as a record created or received by a governmental body in pursuance of its activities. In other words public records are those records created or received in the course of official business by governmental bodies at national, provincial and local levels.
Yes, in terms of the definition of a record in the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act No. 43 of 1996 as amended), e-mail messages are also records. Only e-mail messages created or received in the course of official business by governmental bodies, are public records.
Records generated electronically and stored by means of computer technology. It includes digitised records as well as digitally born records
How long should records, identified by the National Archives as non-archival records, be kept by a governmental body before destruction?
According to the National Archives and Records Service of SA Act (Act No 43 of 1996) Section 13(a) “no public record under the control of a governmental body shall be transferred to an archives repository, destroyed, erased or otherwise disposed of without the written authorisation of the National Archivist”.
Once disposal authorities have been issued by the National Archivist, governmental bodies can decide on how long the non-archival records should be preserved for their administrative value before they are disposed of. Governmental bodies need to consider the functional needs, financial accountability and other statutory requirements (e.g. the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000, etc.) of the records when determining the retention periods.
Applications for disposal authorities should be submitted to the National Archivist in paper-based format or in electronic format. The preferred file formats for electronic applications are MS-Word or MS-Excel. When a body submits applications for disposal authority in paper-based format, two copies of the file plan/list/schedule should always accompany the letter of application.
The following different applications must be submitted:
I Current records
b) Records other than correspondence systems
II Terminated records
b) Records other than correspondence files
ii) Electronic records systems
iii) Microfilm records
iv) Audio-visual records
The disposal of records is either done by destroying records that were identified as being non-archival in nature, or by transferring archival records into archival custody.
A plan for the systematic identification and arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods and procedural rules represented in the classification system. The records classification systems prescribed by the National Archives and Records Service are filing system for correspondence systems and the schedule for records other than correspondence systems.
Records allocated with file reference numbers according to the provisions in a file plan or records allocated with item numbers according to the provisions in a schedule for records other than correspondence systems.
Official records requiring the application of security measures (exempted from disclosure) must be classified "Restricted", "Confidential", "Secret" or "Top Secret" in terms of the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS).
The Minimum Information Security Standard can be obtained from the State Security Agency, Private Bag X 87, PRETORIA, 0001, Telephone: 012 427 4000, Fax: 012 427 4651.