The Durban office of ProBono.Org has two staff attorneys who deal with our various help desks. They are Petrina Chetty, who joined in August 2014 and Trisha Dhoda, who joined in January 2016.
In addition to her other help desks, Petrina took over the refugee law portfolio in December 2015 as she wanted to learn more about this area of law. Refugee law is one of our core focus areas and one of our main challenges is recruiting attorneys to assist us with refugee law. In an effort to recruit attorneys, we have already held two seminars for attorneys on refugee law this year, presented by experts in the field. We will be holding other refugee training seminars to equip attorneys with the knowledge and skills required to assist us with our refugee work.
Petrina’s other area of speciality is family law, with the help desk being one of our consistently busy ones. We recently saw a rise in the number of elderly people who approached us for assistance with instituting divorce proceedings. To curb the increase in divorces, Petrina believes that mediation would assist and hopes that more attorneys with mediation skills will contribute toward this endeavour.
Petrina has found that applications for protection orders at the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court help desk are seemingly endless and we have a real demand for attorneys in Chatsworth who can assist us with these. Fortunately, ProBono.Org is becoming more popular amongst attorneys and the community in Chatsworth and we anticipate that more attorneys will be involved in our Chatsworth matters in the near future.
Trisha facilitates the deceased estates, consumer and housing law help desks as well as the general law help desk at the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court. The consumer law help desk is situated at the Durban Magistrate’s Court and assists clients by dealing with matters under the Consumer Protection Act, ranging from contracts to garnishee orders.
The deceased estates help desk is our busiest. It is strategically held at the Master’s Office where our attorneys generally consult with between 25 and 35 clients a week. We have fostered an excellent relationship with the Master’s Office and their staff, who go out of their way to assist us with queries. The Deputy Master regularly commends ProBono.Org for the work that we do with them. We have found that most of our clients simply need legal advice and guidance on how to report a deceased estate. Many of our clients have low levels of education and are simply unaware of legal processes. Our attorneys are to be commended for their work in this field as they have shown themselves to be more than happy to assist clients and take their time explaining the details of the matter.
Our housing clinic sees many clients grappling with landlord/tenant disputes. It is here that we also see the prevalence of fraud matters. Many elderly clients approach us reporting that their properties have been fraudulently transferred to a third party without their knowledge and consent. Trisha has found that these cases can become quite emotional and the harsh plight of these clients is very apparent. Trisha therefore plans to hold more community seminars to educate communities and make them aware of these dangers, in the hope that this will reduce the number of people being swindled.
Article by: Tshenolo Masha
The work of community advice offices (CAOs) remains pivotal in realising the objectives of access to justice. Many advice offices struggle with the harsh realities of not having funding and operating in an environment that is not adequately resourced. They encounter challenges that require instant access to information or referral of their matter. In some instances a simple task like sending an email becomes a stumbling block to ensuring that much needed assistance is provided to a desperate member of the community.
Access to technology these days does not have to mean a bulky desktop PC. Today’s technology allows for data collection, office management and communication to be easily accessible from hand- held devices. The most important advantage is that one can use social media, which promotes interactivity and connectedness which are at the very core of social change efforts.
Social change on social media platforms is not restricted to the advertising of goods and services, but these platforms can be used to expand the reach of community based organisations such as the CAOs. They can use the social media platforms in their area of operations to disseminate information on important legal matters and events that could benefit the community as a whole.
The Device Pilot Project is being rolled out in six CAOs situated between Gauteng and Limpopo. The project will provide smart phones to the CAOs for a period of 10 months. During this period they will be using well-known applications such as WhatsApp, Gmail and Facebook to convey important information related to cases, data collection, events, workshops, meetings and other activities. The project’s main objective is to determine if these platforms can be used effectively for data collection and the legal empowerment of the community. This project is also about shaping the manner in which CAOs can use these social media platforms in an innovative way. As Tom Freston, the former CEO of MTV said,
“Innovation is taking two things that already exist and putting them together in a new way.”
POLICE are investigating the conduct of the Sophiatown police station after alleged negligence by its officers resulted in a woman being set on fire. The investigation comes more than nine months after the
gruesome murder, as the woman’s family struggle to cope. Brenda Hedges lived for more than a decade with her daughters, Lucille and Cecilia Schaper, Cecilia’s husband Roeland Bosman, and the couple’s five children in Newlands. All three women were granted protection orders against Bosman because of years of physical and emotional abuse, but polic
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Domestic abuse remains unheard as victims are kept silent by an uncaring justice system, writes Shain Germaner
LUCILLE Schaper still lives in the room where she watched her mother burn after being set alight. A few marks created by the flames can still be seen on the wall, but the new paint job and rearrangement of the room’s few sticks of furniture has masked most of the damage. Schaper and her sister, Cecilia, had been living in the Newlands home for almost a decade with Cecilia’s husband, Roeland Bosman, their five children and invalid mother, Brenda Hedges. But it was never a happy time. Schaper recalls the time when Bosman beat Cecilia with a metal pipe, the time he put a gun in her face, and the numerous times he threatened “to burn the house down with everyone in it”.
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NGO ProBono.org’s One Child A Year campaign calls on lawyers to take on at least one case involving a child per year without costs. Shain Germaner reports.
Johannesburg – It could have been prevented. Doctors said Colin* will never have a normal bowel movement again.
At just 4-years-old, he was raped – allegedly by his own uncle – to the point of internal disfigurement. But Colin isn’t the only rape survivor in his East Rand family.
His two sisters, aged 5 and 7, were also raped two years ago, supposedly by the same person.
Police took months to take a statement from the family after the first incident, and the perpetrator was never arrested because a criminal case was never properly lodged.
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