Community Advice Office Support Project: Social media for social change

Community Advice Office Support Project: Social media for social change

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.”

SAPS ‘failed’ burnt woman

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


Daughter watches as mom dies at the hands of abuser

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”.


When helping a child becomes priceless

NGO’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.