ProBono.Org Durban’s Appreciation Day 2018

ProBono.Org Durban’s Appreciation Day 2018

By Shamika Dwarika

 

The Durban office of ProBono.Org hosted its third annual Appreciation Day on 20 April at Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal. The occasion is an opportunity for us to thank the attorneys who have given generously of their services on a pro bono basis, as well as expressing our  gratitude to some of our partners. Several legal practitioners received certificates for their outstanding pro bono work. Mr Ravin Jankhi, the storyteller MC, got into the spirit of the event and rendered his services on a pro bono basis. The event saw the Judge President of the KZN High Court, Judge Jappie, give a motivational keynote address. The main sponsor for this year’s event was LexisNexis.

 

Click here for our complete June 2018 Newsletter

Mediation at ProBono.Org

By Swazi Malinga.

 

As part of our service to the community, we offer pro bono mediation. We have a panel of qualified and dedicated mediators who are readily available to assist our clients. In the family law context, we offer mediation to parents of minor children, often parents who are not married to each other, who cannot decide on a workable co-parenting arrangement. A mediator tries to assist them to enter into an agreement that they are happy with and that will promote the best interests of their minor child. The parenting plan will deal with the care and contact of the child, which will include visitation schedules and primary residence, and in some instances the parents may even agree on the religion the child should follow. An important factor is that of maintenance, which is often an issue in dispute between parents. To clients getting divorced, we offer mediation of settlement agreements which will also incorporate a parenting plan. This allows the divorcing parents to decide and negotiate their own terms and conditions.

Mediation can be challenging because many people still believe that going to court is the best and only way of resolving disputes. Some clients do not regard mediation as a legal process, do not take it seriously, and fail to turn up on the day of the mediation session. Our task therefore also entails creating awareness about the importance and benefits of mediation. We conduct workshops in communities to explain that mediation is much cheaper and has the ability to resolve disputes speedily, rather than engaging in lengthy and costly litigation. However, our problems don’t end there, as we also face some degree of resistance from our colleagues in the legal profession, who may be representing the other party, and reject a suggestion of mediation as they fear losing out on their fees. We are pro mediation, as it provides a safe ground for the parties and all discussions that take place during the sessions are confidential and thus cannot be used in a court of law save for the final written agreement by the parties. We are mindful that not all disputes can be mediated, but feel that clients should be offered this option. If more legal practitioners encourage mediation, more clients and the community at large will take mediation seriously and regard it as an effective alternative dispute resolution.

 

Click here for our complete June 2018 Newsletter

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By Elsabe Steenhuisen.

In short, the answer is “yes”. The reasoning, with reference to case law, follows below.

1. What does the Common Law state?

The Common Law position is that children below the age of seven are infans and cannot act. A curator or a guardian has to act on behalf of the child. If children are over the age of seven, but under 18, they must be assisted either by a curator or their guardian. If the guardian is not available, the court must appoint a curator on motion proceedings.

2. Did the case law change this position?

Yes, by a gradual process, which is still developing. In 2000, in the Christian Education South Africa case, the court held that in a case concerning children, their “actual experiences and opinions would not necessarily have been decisive, but they would have enriched the dialogue, and the factual and experiential foundations for the balancing exercise in this difficult matter would have been more secure.”

In 2003 in the Soller case the court appointed a legal representative for the child, to whom the child gave instructions directly and without assistance of a guardian or curator ad litem.

In 2008 the court in the Pillay case remarked that the need for the child’s voice to be heard is perhaps even more acute when it concerns children mature for their age, who should be increasingly taking responsibility for their own actions and beliefs.

In 2009 the Legal Aid Board acted for a 12 year old girl. The court ruled that the Board did not need to obtain consent of either the court or the child’s guardian to represent a child. This was confirmed further in 2011 by the Supreme Court of Appeal when the Board acted in the Four Children case, and in 2012 in the Brossy case.

3. What does the legislation require?

The Child Justice Act merely requires “a parent/guardian/other suitable person” to assist child offenders who instruct their legal practitioners themselves. The Children’s Act allows representation of a child without a guardian. Some magistrates in the Children’s Courts require an application by the legal practitioner to allow the child to be represented. The Divorce Act allows the court to appoint a legal practitioner to represent a child at the proceedings and may order the parties or any one of them to pay the costs of the representation.

Section 28(1)(h) of the Bill of Rights provides that: “Every child has the right to have a legal practitioner assigned to the child by the state at state expense, in civil proceedings affecting the child, if substantial injustice would otherwise occur”. In the Van Niekerk case in 2005 the Centre for Child Law was allowed to apply ex parte for the appointment of a legal representative in terms of s28(1)(h) for two girls, without their guardian’s consent. ProBono.Org agrees with the Centre for Child Law that this section does not preclude registered legal organisations to secure legal representation for children. Section 28(1)(h) does not give the state exclusive rights in this respect.

In conclusion, if any person (who qualifies in terms of the means test) approaches ProBono.Org for assistance, we will obtain representation without the guardian’s permission, and if necessary the legal practitioner will obtain the court’s permission to act on behalf of the child, because we interpret the current state of the law as not to limit a child’s right to legal representation. We acknowledge Professor Ann Skelton of the Centre for Child Law, who dealt with this issue during a ProBono.Org breakfast on 18 October 2017, and thank her for the notes she made available for use by ProBono.Org. Full case references are available on request.

 

Click here for our complete June 2018 Newsletter

Probono.Org Durban: eThekwini Youth Employability Indaba & KZN Career Expo

Probono.Org Durban: eThekwini Youth Employability Indaba & KZN Career Expo

ProBono.Org Durban was fortunate to be able to participate at the eThekwini Youth Employability Indaba & KZN Career Expo at the ICC. The three day expo is being held for the youth to attend to increase the level of youth participation in the mainstream economy. The expo enabled ProBono.Org to showcase the opportunities and services we offer. Here are some pictures of the event from the 23 May 2018.

Welcome to Michelle Odayan – ProBono.Org’s new National Director

Welcome to Michelle Odayan – ProBono.Org’s new National Director

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Michelle Odayan as the National Director of ProBono.Org as from April 2018. She is a nonpractising Advocate of the High Court of South Africa (BA.LLB), a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of the Indiba–Africa Group, a human and rights centered development practice. Her personal and professional life is anchored around values-based leadership and an ethical rights, responsibilities and social justice discourse.

Michelle has substantive experience working with government, the private sector and civil society stakeholders on a wide range of cross cutting social and economic capacity building interventions, business and human rights integration, skills development and technological advancement. Over the past 25 years she has led diverse teams and was accountable for multimillion rand development project portfolios supported by international donor and government investments.

Michelle has skills and experience in board governance, strategy and policy development, executive management, programme design, total impact monitoring and evaluation, resource mobilisation and capacity development. She has worked in the fields of Business and Human Rights, Employment and Equality Law, Gender and Women’s Rights, Local Economic Development, Skills Planning and Development, Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainable Development, Access to Justice and Rule of Law, Democracy and Governance, and in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Since 2000, she was instrumental in the planning and execution of public private partnership projects that were critical for the transformation of the South African justice system and is considered one of a handful of justice sector reform practitioners in Africa.

She has held formal positions with ACCORD, Olive OD&T, Business Against Crime (BACSA), Agenda Feminist Media and the National Centre for State Courts (USA). She is actively involved in a variety of professional associations, holds several Board directorships and is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative, the Aspen Global Leadership Network (US) and an alumnus of the Cambridge and Prince of Wales Sustainable Leadership Programme (UK). In 2012 – 2013 she was a ministerial appointee to the National Task Team on Sexual Offences Legislation & the Re-Establishment of Sexual Offences Courts. She also served on the President’s Working Group on Women (PWGW) from 2005 – 2007 and remains a vociferous champion for women’s rights and equality.

We are very fortunate to have her as the leader of ProBono.Org and hope all our partners and colleagues will welcome her to the team.

 

Click here for our complete April 2018 Newsletter

Congratulations to all the winners of the Pro Bono Awards on 7 September

Congratulations to all the winners of the Pro Bono Awards on 7 September

On Thursday 7 September 2017 the fourth Pro Bono Awards ceremony was held at The Social Kitchen at Exclusive Books in Hyde Park Corner.

There were 11 award categories, won by:

Refugee Law – Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc.
Housing Law – Sonkozi Ngalonkulu Attorneys
Estates Law – Mojelo Hlazo Attorneys
Community Advice Office – Ntsu Community Advice Office, Mabopane
Family Law – Riva Lange Attorney
Labour Law – Naledi Motsiri, Werksmans
Wills – Norton Rose Fulbright SA
Police Brutality – Candice Pillay, Hogan Lovells SA Inc.
Child Law – Suné Bosch, Ramsden Small Inc.
Advocate Award – Thulamela Group
Law Student at a University Law Clinic – Lutho Klaas, University of Fort Hare
Law Society of the Northern Provinces Award – Serialong Lebasa
Legal Aid South Africa Award – Khanyisa Ngobeni

In addition, there were several Director’s Special Mentions:

Clarks Attorneys – for their willing availability and commitment
Reg Joubert – for his support at the Divorce Help Desk and children’s matters
Claire Thomson – for drafting wills and presenting at community workshops
Susan Harris – for her many years of commitment to help desks, cases and events
Leana Elliot of Klopper Jonker Attorneys – for assisting at the Palm Ridge Help Desk and other pro bono work
Patrick Bracher of Norton Rose Fulbright SA  – for hosting the Pro Bono Law radio programme on Radio Today for the past 11 years
Baker & McKenzie – for doing pro bono work for ProBono.Org
Hoossen Sader – for his availability to take on family law matters

We congratulate all the winners and thank our generous sponsors for supporting this acknowledgement of invaluable pro bono work.

READ MORE ABOUT THE 2017 PRO BONO AWARDS HERE

The unsung heroes of ProBono.Org, Durban

By Petrina Chetty.

 

Fawzia-Khan

Fawzia Khan

Fawzia Khan of Fawzia Khan & Associates is a sole proprietor and general litigation attorney. She joined our panel in 2015. Since then, Ms Khan has maintained a consistent presence at ProBono.Org due to her desire to help people. Apart from taking on numerous matters, Ms Khan has assisted us with many of our special projects, such as the 16 Days of Activism help desks, and seminars for GreenAble and the KZN Blind & Deaf Society. Ms Khan is one of the attorneys that we can (and do!) approach when we need assistance urgently. In an organisation like ProBono.Org, it is most valuable to have attorneys like Ms Khan on our panel. She has proven that everyone can give back if they so wish.

“Giving back to the community by providing free legal services to the vulnerable and indigent is most fulfilling and highly rewarding”

Gregory Botha Pitcher & Fismer Attorneys

Gregory Botha

Another attorney who we wish to acknowledge is Gregory Botha of Pitcher & Fismer Attorneys. Mr Botha is a general litigation attorney and also joined our panel in 2015. As Mr Botha practises in Pietermaritzburg, it is difficult for our Pietermaritzburgbased firms to staff our help desks in Durban. Mr Botha compensates for that by being ever willing to take on individual matters and has assisted us tremendously in this regard. He has gone above and beyond his mandate to ensure that clients are assisted.

“ I believe ProBono.Org helps to ensure that those less fortunate in our society have access to quality representation, ensuring these individuals’ rights are properly protected and / or enforced, making ‘access to justice’ a reality for them.”

 

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER HERE

 

 

We salute our East Rand pro bono attorneys

By Swazi Malinga.

 

Sumadhi Naidoo Attorneys

Sumadhi Naidoo Attorneys

The ProBono.Org Palm Ridge help desk services the community of Thokoza, Alberton and Palm Ridge. The help desk is operational on Mondays and clients receive assistance with family law matters, deceased estate and maintenance cases. We would like to salute our volunteer attorneys from Klopper Jonker Attorneys and Sumadhi Naidoo Attorneys.

Their dedication and hard work has kept this help desk afloat. They even go the extra mile by not just providing legal advice, but taking on cases and appearing in court for clients who cannot afford to pay legal fees.

Klopper Jonker Attorneys

Leana-Eliot

Leana Eliot

Nerina-Austin

Nerina Austin

P-W-Steinberg

P W Steinberg

 

 

 

 

 

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER HERE

 

 

ProBono.Org Office Changes

ProBono.Org Office Changes

by Erica Emdon.

Pretoria ProBono.Org office

PretoriaProBono.Org opened an office in Pretoria in May 2015, in a joint arrangement with the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. The office was based in Visagie Street Pretoria, and was established to enable the LSNP to have a place where clients could come for legal assistance. ProBono.Org agreed to recruit lawyers to do some of the legal work generated on a pro bono basis. Regrettably ProBono.Org has had to withdraw from the venture since funding for this office has placed considerable strain on its resources. It is confident however that the LSNP will continue a successful pro bono programme, based at the North Gauteng High Court, under the watchful eye of Humphrey Shivamba, the coordinator of pro bono at the LSNP.

Khayelitsha ProBono.Org office

Khayelitsha-Probono Khayelitsha-Probono02In September 2016 ProBono.Org opened an office in Khayelitsha at an NGO centre funded and built by The Atlantic Philanthropies. The building stands grandly alongside the Magistrate’s Court, hospital, SASSA and Legal Aid SA offices, and houses a range of NGOs that provide invaluable services to poor and needy people. These include Equal Education, the Equal Education Law Centre, the Treatment Action Campaign, Tekano and the Social Justice Coalition, among others. ProBono.Org was invited to open a legal clinic in the building which seemed like an opportunity to extend our services into the Western Cape. After settling in however, we have realised that the location of the building is difficult to access by clients who do not live in Khayelitsha and legal practitioners based more centrally in Cape Town. We have taken the difficult decision to relocate to the Cape Town CBD. Our new office will be close to the train station, within walking distance of the Cape Law Society, Magistrate’s Court, Deeds Office, Master’s Office and High Court. It is close to law firms and chambers and we believe, because of this more suitable location, it will enable ProBono.Org to take off most successfully in the Western Cape. The address and phone number will be released in August after the office opens.

READ THE FULL NEWSLETTER HERE

ProBono.Org Cape Town and Bowman Gilfillan invited by Amnesty International to be panelists on the Constitutional Matters programme hosted by Voice of the Cape

ProBono.Org Cape Town and Bowman Gilfillan invited by Amnesty International to be panelists on the Constitutional Matters programme hosted by Voice of the Cape

On the 19th of April 2017 ProBono.Org Cape Town and Bowman Gilfillan were invited by Amnesty International to be panelists on the Constitutional Matters programme hosted by Voice of the Cape, a local community radio station.

The public education programme is aimed at transformative constitutionalism. This particular session focused on the Right to Equality and Access to Justice and Legal Recourse in relation to the horizontal relationship between the State and the Citizen.

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