Gender-based violence during COVID-19: a human rights violation

Gender-based violence during COVID-19: a human rights violation

By Siyabonga Zondi and Sinothile Zondi (Durban interns)

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the founding document of the United Nations, states that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

There is now near-universal consensus that all individuals are entitled to certain basic rights under any circumstance. Human rights are the articulation of the need for justice, tolerance, mutual respect and human dignity in all of our activity. To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive decent humane treatment. To violate the most basic rights on the other hand, is to deny individuals their fundamental moral entitlements. It is, in a sense, to treat them as if they are less than human and undeserving of respect and dignity.

Gender-based violence is a profound human rights violation, which is a common and widespread problem in South Africa, which disproportionately affects women and girls. It is a crisis that is tearing our society apart and affects every community in the country. It increases particularly during any type of emergency, whether it be an economic crisis, a breakout of conflict or a disease.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of gender-based violence cases since the country began the nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-existing social norms and inequalities, economic and social stress caused by the pandemic, coupled with restricted movement and social isolation measures, have led to an exponential increase in gender-based violence cases.

Inasmuch as gender-based violence does not begin with disasters like COVID-19, the chaos and instability this has caused have left women and girls more vulnerable than ever. The mass effort to save lives has put one vulnerable group at risk. Women and children who live with abusers have no escape. The pandemic makes it hard for this vulnerable group and being able to separate them from people who abuse them and provide them with resources that can help has been a challenge.

Publicising abuse is a way to demand justice for the victims, by pressuring governments to respond and to hold perpetrators accountable. Publicising abuse raises awareness in society and can mobilise support for the victims in making a complaint. The level of detail in the documentation can affect the ability of the supporting agencies to accept and act on a complaint and should be as comprehensive as possible. The effectiveness of human rights as a tool depends on the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the evidence gathered. It can contribute to educating and organising as well as advocating at a political or legal level.

Government leaders have been brought down through documentation of human rights violations; the power of the process, both for the victim and the perpetrator, should not be underestimated. Documentation can also be a way to secure assistance, relief and rehabilitation for victims. Documentation can help to mobilise international attention on an issue and push the government to act as a result. Accurate statistics are difficult to obtain for many reasons including the fact that most incidents of gender-based violence are not reported. It is however evident that our country has particularly high rates of gender-based violence. This is more so when the media brings attention to some of the more heinous acts of violence against women.

One of the most devastating cases which left the whole country in shock was that of 21 year-old Tshegofatsho Pule who was eight months pregnant. She was found hanging from a tree in Roodepoort, Johannesburg with multiple stab wounds to the chest. Another case was in Khayelitsha, which is one of the biggest townships in Cape Town, where 34 year old Sbongiseni Gabadu’s decomposing body was found chopped up and stuffed inside a sports bag.

Documentation can be an empowering process if it involves sharing ownership of information with the affected group, and helps them understand the political, economic or other circumstances that allow violations to happen. Often, victims of rights violations who belong to a highly stigmatised or persecuted group do not recognise that a rights violation has happened to them or that certain treatment is wrong. Some do not believe they have any rights at all. In addition to providing a historical record of abuse, community or peer driven documentation brings ordinary people into a broader movement against injustice.

The Constitution states that the fundamental rights of all South Africans will be respected and protected. President Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address to the country, highlighted the fact that gender-based violence should be considered as a second pandemic in the country and taken as seriously as the coronavirus. This has not been the first time that there has been a rapid surge in incidents of gender-based violence during a lockdown situation. The President reiterated the need to treat the fight against gender-based violence as a war and women’s rights campaigners have welcomed the greater focus on violence against women.

Click here for our complete September 2020 Newsletter

When a delay is a denial!

National Adoption Coalition v Head of Department of Social Development for KwaZulu-Natal NO 2020 (4) SA 284 (KZN) (“National Adoption Coalition case”

By Dante Adams, Fasken

In the Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, young Pip remarks that: “In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.”1

Unfortunately many children in South Africa have felt this injustice through abandonment, abuse and neglect and are left with little hope of experiencing love, joy and the stability of a family. Adoption plays a role in alleviating this injustice. On 24 February 2020, the High Court in Durban granted an order declaring that the Head of Department for Social Development, KwaZulu-Natal (HOD) had violated section 28 of the Constitution.2 The judgment, by Judge Seegobin, has a significant effect on the adoption of children.

Role of the Department of Social Development (DSD) in the Adoption Process

  • The DSD plays a significant role in the adoption process in South Africa as articulated in the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 (“the Act”).
  • Section 239(1) (d) of the Act sets out the statutory requirements for an adoption application and states: “An application for adoption order should be accompanied by a letter by the provincial head of social development recommending the adoption of the child (“section 239 letter”).”
  • The section 239 letter provides oversight in the adoption process to prevent child trafficking and abuse.
  • The Act does not specify what considerations the DSD should take into account when recommending adoption, resulting in each province adopting its own process to evaluate adoption applications.
  • The DSD in KwaZulu-Natal implemented a process which required each adoption application to be presented before a panel; panellists would scrutinise each adoption application before providing a section 239 letter. The process led to undue delays in adoptions in KwaZulu-Natal. Statistics indicate that a total of 174 adoptions took place in the province over a seven-year period, just 5% of the national average.3

NACSA instituted proceedings against the HOD and the DSD to declare this adoption process constitutionally invalid because it did not promote the best interests of the child.

Court Findings:

  • The inordinate delays caused in finalising the adoption process by the HOD and DSD violated s 28 of the Constitution, and the paramountcy principle4. The court specifically held that the two main causes of the delays in finalising adoptions in this province were 1) the composition of the adoption panel; and 2) the actions of the HOD.
  • The panel members were not “suitably qualified and experienced to deal with adoption matters and the complexities that may arise from time to time”5, and the panel meetings were “erratic” and uncertain.
  • The HOD and DSD did not understand their constitutional obligations in the adoption process – the duty to expedite the process in the best interests of the child6.
  • The DSD and HOD took irrelevant considerations into account when considering an adoption application.
  • The adoption process followed by the HOD and DSD resulted in undue delays and caused serious long-term psychological trauma, both for consenting parents and the child, and were not in the best interests of the child.
  • The court ordered a supervisory order in which the HOD and DSD were to process the backlog of adoption applications within 30 days and to strictly adhere to the 30-day turnaround time articulated by the National Department for all future applications.

 

Click here for our complete September 2020 Newsletter

Sheriff’s costs in Children’s Court cases – who should pay?

By Elsabe Steenhuisen

 

Introduction
The disbursements in cases ProBono.Org refers to legal practitioners (“LPs”), are mostly sponsored by the LPs, such as their travel expenses and photocopies. But what about the sheriff’s costs, which can be a substantial amount? We all know that the party who instructs service should pay for it. In terms of the Guidelines of ProBono.Org LPs may, if they choose, recover disbursements from the pro bono referred clients. However, it becomes a totally different ball game when we practise in the Children’s Courts when we represent the child or one of the parents who can barely afford a daily living, let alone paying sheriff’s costs!
The question then arises whether service by the sheriff is always a requirement to secure the presence of a witness in Children’s Court proceedings? What about the respondent (the other parent or care-taker or interested party) whose appearance is necessary during the proceedings – how is the presence of these persons secured? The full answer to these two questions is on our website here.

The position regarding the witness:

The Regulations pertaining to the Children’s Act
When we look for the answer in the Children’s Act, we have to be aware of two sets of regulations:
1. The Regulations relating to Children’s Courts and International Child Abduction 2010, also referred to as the Justice Regulations (“JR”), and refer to sections 42-75; 161-166 and 274-280.
2. The General Regulations regarding Children, 2010 (“GR”), and refer to sections 90,103, 142, 160, 179, 190, 212, 227, 253 and 280 of the Children’s Act, and other centres and facilities.

The Children’s Act
Section 53 of the Children’s Act (“Who may approach court”)
Section 53 and JR 7(2) provide who may bring a case to the Children’s Court. What is the position if one of these persons mentioned in JR 7(2), or the persons named in section 53, want to call a witness? JR Form 4 has the answer. It sets out the procedure to secure witnesses at court (one has to submit particulars of the witness/es to the clerk of the court within fourteen days before the date of the hearing). Form 4 states that the costs of the service of the subpoena on any witness will be borne by the person who requests the witness subpoena unless, in exceptional cases, the court directs that the state bears such costs. Neither the Act nor the Regulations define “exceptional cases”, but one should certainly be able to argue that indigency, or acting pro bono for a child who has no known parent or carer, or has an indigent carer, should be sufficient reason to invoke this mechanism. Form 4 does not refer to sections 58 and 59 of the Children’s Act, neither to Form 6 of the JR, nor to JR 9, which all deal with witnesses.

Witnesses in the Children’s Court
Section 58 of the Children’s Act provides for the right to adduce evidence. This means that any party to the proceedings may call a witness. Section 59(1) of the Children’s Act stipulates the procedure to secure the presence of a witness. The clerk must, in the prescribed manner, summons a person to appear as a witness at either the request of the presiding officer (section 59(1)(a)), the child or a person whose rights may be affected by an order in those proceedings (section 59(1)(b)), or the legal representative appearing for either the child or party/ies involved in the case (section 59(1)(c)).

A request to the Clerk for the issuing of a subpoena by any of the above-mentioned persons, other than the Presiding Officer, must:
a) be made at least at fifteen (15) court days before the date of the hearing;
b) be in writing on Annexure O; and
c) filed in the specific Court file.
Annexure O is available from the clerk of the Children’s Court.
JR 9(1) permits the clerk to subpoena at least ten (10) days before the date of the hearing, any person to appear as a witness in a matter in terms of Form 6. JR 9(2) permits a person referred to in section 59(1)(b) or (c), to request the clerk within 15 days before the hearing, to issue a subpoena to the witness the person intends to call. JR 9(3) provides for personal service by either the sheriff, or a clerk, or a person authorised by the presiding officer. It provides also for service by registered post or any other manner as directed by the presiding officer. As JR 9(3) does not refer to service by the SAPS, one can argue that section 59(2) of the Children’s Act makes provision for this option. Other options, as pointed out above, but only on authorisation by the court, may be service by a social worker; any other person, such as a family member or a friend; Facebook; e-mail, or facsimile. It is obvious that the court’s authorisation should be in writing.
Form 6 provides for service of a copy of the subpoena personally on the witness; or to a person apparently not younger than 16 years and apparently residing or employed at the residence/place of employment/business of the witness if the witness could not be conveniently found; or by affixing/placing it to/in the outer/principal door/security gate/post box of the residence/place of employment/business of the witness as the witness kept the residence/place of employment/business closed.

Conclusion
There are various options available for the legal practitioner to secure the presence of a witness at court. Many of the options would be far more cost effective and affordable than service by the sheriff or the SAPS (see Section 15(1)(b) of the Magistrates’ Courts Act). The LP should only first obtain authorisation from the presiding officer by substantiating the reasons for the application to court. I want to leave you with the suggestion of one of our colleagues, Lesley Blake – should the sheriffs, being also officers of the court, not be required to also do pro bono work as part of their social responsibility towards the public? After all, it is members of the public who pay their fees.

Click here for our complete September 2020 Newsletter

Temporary Employment Services (Labour Brokers) and their future in the South African labour spectrum

Temporary Employment Services (Labour Brokers) and their future in the South African labour spectrum

By Siyabonga Zondi, Durban Intern

 

The use of temporary employment services (TES), better known as labour brokers, in the South African labour market has always been a topic that has polarised opinion, in both the political and the legal environment. The Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 makes provision for a Temporary Employment Service to exist, creating a threefold relationship between the labour broker, the client and the worker.

The call for the removal of labour brokers is one that has been echoed amongst a number of organised trade unions, most notably by South Africa’s largest trade union federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). One of the reasons for this is that in many ways, labour brokers have been supplying what are, in effect, permanent employees to their clients. This means that the worker may essentially perform the same roles and functions as those of a permanent employee of the client but not be afforded the same protections as a permanent employee. This has historically left the temporary employee vulnerable to unfair labour practices, abuse, inhumane and degrading treatment in the workplace and the concomitant fear of termination at the will of the employer, without any concrete legal recourse. Prior to the 2014 amendment, the LRA stipulated that the labour broker (the deemed employer) and the client are jointly and severally liable in respect of contraventions of conditions of service, the minimum and maximum standards as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 1997 (BCEA), and arbitration awards that regulate the terms and conditions of service. The pre-amendment LRA failed to articulate provisions that expressly protect temporary workers from unfair labour practices, such as unfair dismissals.

It would not be unfair to say that until recently government has not heeded the call to regulate or ban labour brokers with any sense of enthusiasm or urgency. The situation is however more complicated than meets the eye. To simply ban labour brokers to satisfy the calls made by the trade unions represents a conundrum for the government. This is because a large section of the South African workforce is employed by labour brokers and labour brokers are widely considered as a platform for first-time job seekers as well as labourers to secure employment.

In light of all these concerns and the resultant widespread protests against labour brokering, the LRA was amended in 2014 to introduce protections for employees in precarious employment. The amendments did not ban labour brokering, they instead strengthened the regulations to provide greater protection for workers placed in temporary employment services. For the most part, this purpose has had the effect of increased protection for marginal workers and the introduction of a legislative framework to ensure temporary services are indeed temporary. The addition of Sections 198A and D allowed for the parameters of temporary services to be identified and detailed the protection offered to workers. In Assign Services (Pty) Limited v National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Others CCT 194/1, the interpretation of the section was tested, and the question was raised whether the deeming provision in the section resulted in a “sole employment” relationship between a worker and a client or a “dual employment” relationship between a labour broker, a worker and a client. The Constitutional Court held that the interpretation of the section must be one that is cognisant of the purpose of section 23 of the Constitution and of the LRA as a whole. The Court interpreted Section 198 to mean that for the first three months the labour broker is the employer and after that period the client becomes the sole employer.

The recent developments in the labour law spectrum have given a strong indication that labour brokers may not be banned for the foreseeable future and that a regulatory approach that monitors and enforces compliance with labour legislation may be the preferred approach going forward.

 

Click here for our complete August 2020 Newsletter

What happens to your assets when you die?

What happens to your assets when you die?

By Mukethwa Chauke – Johannesburg

 

The concept of succession is not a foreign concept in our African legal system. In customary law the heirs of the deceased were determined through the male line ,referred to as the male primogeniture rule, which is well known to discriminate against women. Only the eldest legitimate son of the deceased could inherit, to the exclusion of the other siblings. The customary rule of male primogeniture was declared invalid and unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in a landmark case of Bhe v Magistrate Khayelitsha 2005 (1) SA 580 (CC), as the rule infringed the rights of equality and human dignity.

When a person dies and leaves assets, a deceased estate comes into existence and it must be distributed through the application of testate or intestate succession law.
Testate succession is where the deceased died having left a valid Will. The wishes of the deceased person will be carried out according to what the Will says.
Intestate succession is where the deceased died without a Will or with a Will which was later rejected by the Master of the High Court (the Master) and/or declared invalid by the High Court for certain reasons. In this regard the deceased estate will be distributed through the application of the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987.

The deceased estate must be reported to the Master in whose area of jurisdiction the deceased was living prior to his or her death. The estate must be reported within 14 days from the date of death, and any person who is in possession of the deceased person’s Will and/or has control over any of the deceased assets can report the death.

The Master will appoint an executor to the deceased estate. The appointment differs depending on the value of the deceased estate and is regulated by section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act 66 of 1965 (the Act).

If the value of the estate is more than R250,000 the heirs of the deceased must nominate an attorney who will wind up the estate and prepare and lodge the liquidation and distribution account (hereinafter referred to as the L&D account) with the Master. The L&D account is governed by the provision of section 35 of the Act, and once the Master has approved the L&D account a Letters of Executorship will be issued. Where the value of the estate is less than R250,000 the Master may issue Letters of Authority.

When the Master issues Letters of Authority it is free of charge and legal assistance is not necessary. However, property values are regularly increased by municipalities and this affects the destitute in a negative manner when they want to wind up their loved one’s deceased estate through the process of obtaining Letters of Executorship without the use of a private attorney. If the legal costs are unaffordable to the heirs, it results in many deceased estates not being wound up.
Through my experience as a legal intern at ProBono.Org, I have come across various kinds of deceased estate disputes among siblings. One of the most common is when an heir fraudulently transfers the deceased’s immovable property into his/her name to the exclusion and detriment of the other siblings who are the rightful heirs of the deceased. The unscrupulous sibling may go as far as selling the immovable property, even when the deceased’s family is occupying the property, to the extent that they end up being illegally evicted from the property.

All the rightful heirs are entitled to the deceased estate, whether in testate or intestate succession. One heir cannot legally act on their own, but must obtain consent from the other heirs. A property that has been fraudulently transferred or sold to a third party without the knowledge or consent of the rightful heirs of the deceased can be challenged, and the ownership or sale of the property declared null and void.

The moment a person dies his or her assets are frozen. If the deceased owns immovable property and has left money and/or any policies, his or her beneficiaries will not be able to claim if the Master has not appointed an executor of the deceased estate.

In conclusion, drafting a valid will is advisable as it can minimise the difficulties that might transpire when administrating the deceased estate, the testator has the freedom to indicate what should happen to their assets, who are the heirs and also to nominate the executor of their choice. Any person older than 16 years can draft a valid will. ProBono.Org offers this service free of charge.

 

Click here for our complete August 2020 Newsletter

Can an administrator’s decision to refuse asylum be substituted by an order of the High Court?

Can an administrator’s decision to refuse asylum be substituted by an order of the High Court?

By Obakeng Phatshwane (Candidate Attorney, Fasken)

 

Given the impact of COVID 19 and the plight of asylum seekers, this decision remains crucial for those seeking asylum. The substitution by a court of an administrator’s decision2 in granting asylum is a remedy that is only available in exceptional cases.

In the case of Kalisa v Chairperson, Refugee Appeal Board and others 3(“the Kalisa case”) the court had to decide whether it could substitute an administrator’s decision and whether such substitution would be just and equitable.

The Kalisa case involved a Burundian national who had applied to the Refugee Status Determination Officer (RSDO) for asylum. The application had been rejected, and the applicant’s appeal to the Refugee Appeal Board (RAB) dismissed. The applicant applied to the High Court to review the RAB’s decision, and to substitute it with a grant of asylum.

The court held that substitution was unjustified in that the relevant authority was better equipped to investigate and determine certain aspects of the application and that the court was neither in as good a position as the functionary to make a decision, nor was the decision foregone. Therefore the court ordered that the matter be referred back to the administrator, and that the applicant be allowed to make a new application for asylum.

The primary factors taken into consideration by the court when substituting an administrator’s decision were:

  • whether the court is in as good a position as the administrator to make the decision; and
  • whether the decision of the administrator was a foregone conclusion.

In respect of the former enquiry, the court must be satisfied, on the basis of the evidence presented to it, or by virtue of its institutional competency, that granting such substitution order would comply with the constitutional requirements of lawfulness, reasonableness and procedural fairness.
Where a court is not in as good a position than the administrator but the administrator’s bias or incompetence renders it unjust to refer the matter back to such administrator for consideration, a court might be required to devise a remedy not identified in terms of section 8 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act 3 of 2000 (PAJA).
Other secondary factors to be considered include delay, bias or incompetence on the administrator’s part. In asylum matters the prejudicial consequences of a delay would justify the granting of asylum only where it is sufficiently clear that the applicant qualifies for refugee status.4 The onus is on the applicant to furnish sufficient evidence to the court that he/she qualifies for refugee status.

Legal Position
The judgement is an indication that the court would be unlikely to step into the shoes of the administrator or elect to substitute a decision of an administrator unless exceptional circumstances exist requiring the court to do so. An applicant looking to succeed with an application for a substitution order must in this instance furnish sufficient evidence indicative of the existence of exceptional circumstances, failure of which the court will refer the matter back to the administrator for consideration.

 

Click here for our complete August 2020 Newsletter

City of Johannesburg’s Expanded Social Packages

Marc Barros Gevers
Candidate Attorney at Schindlers Attorneys

Chantelle Gladwin- Wood
Partner at Schindlers Attorneys

Introduction
The City of Johannesburg (“The City”) has a number of financial assistance measures in place for its consumers. Each of these measures has their own specific requirements that a consumer would have to meet in order to qualify. Examples include the Pensioners’ Rebate and the Expanded Social Package.

What is the ESP?
The City rolled out its Expanded Social Package (“ESP”) several years ago. The ESP is a social welfare programme facilitated by the Social Development Department of the municipality, with a view to provide much needed financial assistance to owners/occupants of residential properties who have a limited income and are not pensioners. The ESP is designed to provide a “basket of benefits” to owners/occupants who qualify as “indigent”.

Who is the ESP intended to benefit?
The ESP is intended to target the vulnerable residents within the jurisdiction of the City such as the unemployed, women and children, youth, senior residents, persons with disabilities and displaced persons. Since July 2019, the ESP has provided its benefits to approximately 30,000 residents.

What benefits does the ESP offer?
The ESP provides rebates on water, electricity, sewer and refuse, and property rates on a tiered system, dependent on the level of poverty of the consumer concerned. For the unemployed and working age residents (aged 18-59), a rates rebate will apply if the property in question is under R500,000.00 and, for pensioners, rebates for rates, sewer and refuse are available for properties valued under R2,500,000.00.

How do I qualify?
In order to qualify for the ESP, an individual or household must:
i. be a South African citizen;
ii. reside within the City’s boundaries;
iii. have a monthly income of less than the prescribed amount, currently R6,086.37; and
iv. re-apply every six months. For bedridden or chronically ill patients, the Social Development Department offers social worker services by way of home visitations, affording these people the same opportunity to access the programme.

However, during the current COVID-19 outbreak and the required social distancing measures, it would be irresponsible and impractical for the City to require beneficiaries of the ESP to have to attend Council to renew their ESP. As such, the City has extended the ESP, and, as such, current beneficiaries whose registration would expire between March and June 2020 will have an additional six months prior to having to reapply for the ESP.

Other Benefits
The ESP programme is also linked to the City’s food bank and beneficiaries of the ESP also qualify for referral to other services offered by the City, such as Skills Development and Intervention Programmes.

ESP during COVID
It would seem that, despite the difficulties posed by the current lockdown, the City has continued to provide such an essential service and package to its residents. Arguably, now more than ever, such a programme is essential due to the struggle to acquire an income. The City may see more of its residents applying for access to the ESP.

The Future of the ESP
The City is reviewing the current rebates offered under the ESP. While this is a positive move by the City in better providing for its residents, it has yet to provide further specifics on what the plan for extending access to the ESP will be. While the City decides on what expansions will be made in the form of relief for its residents, the City is still accepting applications for its already existing relief schemes, such as the pensioners’ rebate and the ESP.

Should you require any assistance in dealing with any City of Johannesburg issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Click here for our complete August 2020 Newsletter

A workplace away from the workplace: A reflection on the supporting role of an organisation

A workplace away from the workplace: A reflection on the supporting role of an organisation

By Mattew December, Legal Intern, Cape Town

 

“What do you think the organisation can do for you and your personal development?” This was the stand-out question for me during my interview with ProBono.Org in Cape Town during December 2019. I thought for a second, and the answer I gave was that I had a clear indication that I wanted to be a part of this special organisation.

On 16 March 2020, it was the beginning of a new week and panic hit due to the novel coronavirus hitting South African shores at an unprecedented high. The uncertainty was visible on everyone’s faces and management engaged with staff about the fear of consulting with clients coming from all over the city and its outskirts. The support received was unbelievable as we were reassured that our health comes first and that measures would be put in place as soon as possible to protect us in the office.

After consultation with head office, management informed us that we would be working from home from 23 March and that our office would be closed indefinitely. The leadership shown by the management of the organisation was proactive and commendable as similar measures were then adopted as national policy when President Cyril Ramaphosa called a national lockdown in line with the Disaster Management Act. This illustrated the organisation’s commitment to the wellbeing of its staff.

Presently, the whole organisation has a WhatsApp support group and various support channels have been introduced at office and national level to assist every employee during these trying and uncertain times. The organisation has also shown foresight in rapidly introducing a model by which employees are able to work from home and still earn an income. It is no secret that there is presently no obligation for employers to pay salaries as staff are out of office, however ProBono.Org has continued to remunerate its employees on time since the lockdown period was declared.

It is undoubtedly a huge challenge to operate during these times, especially considering the nature of the organisation’s work and its limited resources. However, the model adopted by ProBono.Org has ensured that the organisation is able to continue with its mandate and facilitate access to justice for society’s marginalised. This is especially important as ProBono.Org has to convince donors and potential donors that the organisation is making an impact. This basically means that statistics are very important. Although the organisation offers assistance via email and WhatsApp, the majority of clients were people that visited the offices for consultations. This has of course been impossible during the lockdown, however, the organisation has introduced a hotline where people may seek assistance and the telephone and email lines continue to be operative.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on almost every facet of society. The invaluable role that ProBono.Org has played in the lives and wellbeing of its employees could surely be an example to other organisations on how to boost staff morale and maintain an effective level of productivity during this time. Everyone has a role to play in countering the effects of the pandemic and lockdown and as an employer ProBono.Org has risen to the occasion and provided proactive, decisive and supportive leadership. The role the organisation has played in supporting its staff is invaluable and one can only be grateful in knowing that it has been a privilege being part of such an incredible team.

 

 

Click here for our complete July 2020 Newsletter

Sayi Nindi and Meluleki Nzimande join the ProBono.Org Board

At their meeting in June 2020 the ProBono.Org board resolved to appoint two additional members to the board, Sayi Nindi and Meluleki Nzimande.

 

Sayi Nindi studied at the University of Pretoria where she graduated with an LLB and an LLM. She was admitted as an attorney in 2009. She worked at the Legal Resources Centre – Constitutional Litigation Unit – where she specialised in private sector accountability litigation.
Sayi has experience in Public Law, Administrative Law, Commercial Law, Employment Law, Class (Group) Actions, Constitutional Law, Business & Human Rights Law, Land claims, and Housing and Evictions Litigation.

Sayi has advised public entities, municipalities and government departments on appropriate procurement processes. She has also assisted with legal issues arising when tenders are evaluated and she has represented government where tender awards have been challenged. Moreover, she has advised on decisions that must be lawful, procedurally fair and reasonable. Sayi has also conducted judicial reviews of decisions made by the government and other organs of state.

Sayi has acted on behalf of communities and individuals who have challenged multinational corporations or multimillion-dollar projects over human rights violations. She has also acted as amicus curiae in a number of landmark cases.

She has acted for various corporate companies as well as state-owned entities in various labour disputes and has advised on the restructuring of businesses from an employment law perspective.

She has presented at various international conferences and workshops, including making submissions at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights in Banjul, Gambia. Sayi has given a lecture at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights in Business and Human Rights.

 

 

Meluleki Nzimande holds the position of Chief Commissioner, International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa. He has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry & Microbiology; and Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Prior to taking up his present post, Meluleki was a Partner in the Corporate Department of the law firm Webber Wentzel, where he practised for approximately sixteen years, nine of which he spent as a Partner in that firm. He was a member of that firm’s International Trade Law Unit for approximately fifteen years. The Unit advised numerous multinational and South African companies and government on various areas of international trade law, including matters involving understanding and enforcing rights and obligations arising out of bilateral investment treaties, multilateral agreements such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1994, the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the Agreement on the Implementation of Article VI of GATT, 1994, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and the WTO Agreement on Safeguards.

Prior to joining Webber Wentzel, Nzimande worked for Unilever South Africa (Pty) Ltd (Unifoods Boksburg factory) where he held various positions including those of assistant laboratory manager, shift manager in the margarine plant and production manager of the oil bottling plant.

Nzimande volunteers his time to social causes, including the Reverend LW Mbete Education Trust which provides stop-gap financial support to students at tertiary institutions. He is a member of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) and the current Chairperson of the Johannesburg branch of NADEL. He enjoys travelling, reading and spending time with family and friends.

 

 

Click here for our complete July 2020 Newsletter

Six Years Down the Road

By Shamika Dwarika, Regional Director, Durban

 

Change. Adapt. Those two words seem to embody the spirit of my time with ProBono.Org. Six years can seem like a lifetime, but for me it has gone by in the blink of an eye. I have been through numerous changes within the organisation, from new staff and management and expansion of our national footprint through new offices, to awards ceremonies and appreciation days. Through it all, our willingness and ability to adapt to change has been the key to our success as an organisation. In this time of COVID-19, this has never been truer or more necessary. We have found new ways to work and continue to grow – ways that would have seemed impossible when I joined ProBono.Org on 1 July 2014. Few people find their passion in life and even fewer are able to make their passion their career. I have been one of those fortunate people. I have also been very fortunate to be based in Durban, with a panel of private attorneys who are dedicated and committed to undertaking pro bono work and partners who see value in what we do and provide support to us. Being at an organisation such as this, knowing and being able to see tangible proof of the help we provide to people, has been rewarding beyond words. For, as we all know, not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done.

 

 

Click here for our complete July 2020 Newsletter

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