The open access movement in scholarly communication has grown considerably over the past two decades and it has driven an increase in the number of Institutional Repositories (IRs). Academic libraries in South Africa have so far made great advancement towards developing IRs to preserve, manage and to provide open access to digital scholarship of the universities. Open access’s fundamental principle is to make the intellectual output more visible, accessible, searchable and useable by any potential user, and that is indispensable in the quest for long-term access and delivery of authentic digital information. Although many researchers believe that open access has positive implications for research, open access platforms such as IRs are often not trusted, especially because they are offering free access to digital scholarship. Therefore, the question is whether the institutional repositories implemented in South African academic libraries can be regarded as Trusted Digital Repositories (TDRs) to achieve their mission as to provide reliable, long‐term access to managed digital resources to its designated community, now and in the future, and if they meet the criteria and requirements of the TDRs. This underscores the need to assess the trustworthiness of IRs by looking at the entire system in which the digital scholarship is managed, including the institution running the repository; its governance; organizational structure and staffing; policies and procedures; financial fitness and sustainability; legal issues, security issues, compliance with standards, liabilities under which IR must operate and trusted inheritors of data, as applicable. Recommendations suggest the need for implementation of policies and strategies, provision of adequate resources, sufficient funding, collaborative approach and capacitating IRs managers and administrators.