Events and work with SMME’s

Events and work with SMME’s

By Swazi Malinga.

 

ProBono.Org generally provides legal assistance on corporate governance to young aspiring entrepreneurs, business start-ups and SMMEs by referring their requests for assistance to law firms who have volunteered their services on a pro bono basis. We assist clients with an annual turnover of less than R1million.

Because many of these business owners lack the basic knowledge of what the law requires of them when operating their businesses, we tend to spend a lot of time explaining and providing a crash course in commercial law.

In response to this we hosted an SMME seminar on 7 September at Constitution Hill together with Stevens Attorneys, which addressed The Companies Act, Insolvency Law and Commercial Contracts. The 56 participants ranged from owners of start-ups, established entities and spaza shops.

Since 2015 ProBono.Org has run an SMME help desk called YAKHA ISIZWE, based in Soweto, which is a collaboration with Fasken Attorneys and the University of Johannesburg Centre for Entrepreneurship. The objective of this help desk is to provide the services of attorneys to a wide range of businesses, including spaza and tuckshop owners, business women, hawkers, bed and breakfast establishments and hair and beauty salons. The attorneys assist with drawing up service level agreements, lease and finance agreements, as well as advising on appropriate forms of entities to register and providing education and training on commercial law.

To create more awareness about the help desk we hosted an Entrepreneurship Fair on 27 September 2018 together with Fasken and the University of Johannesburg. A young female entrepreneur who owns an online pre-owned clothing business was the guest speaker. A panel consisting of a labour attorney from Fasken, the SA Revenue Service, E-Squared and the CIPC provided information and advice to the participants.

Our goal for 2019 is to have a weekly clinic for SMMEs that will operate at our head office.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

Impact Africa 18 Summit

By Molebogeng Manyako, Johannesburg intern.

 

Further focus on SMMEs and advancing young entrepreneurs saw ProBono.Org and the British Council collaborate on a session presented by ProBono.Org and Bowmans at the Impact Africa Summit from 20 to 22 June. The purpose of the event was to accelerate innovative solutions to Africa’s most pressing challenges by inspiring, supporting and connecting leading social entrepreneurs and key ecosystem players across countries, organisations and sectors such as policy, social investment, business and education.

The first day dealt with leadership for change addressed by the likes of Pat Pillai and Jay Naidoo, to mention a few. The second day was about building a strong ecosystem and the third day addressed collaboration, which does not necessarily involve having money. One’s hands, mind and time can all be used to collaborate.

The Impact Africa summit has shown that we all have a role to play in shaping our societies to be more conducive for the holistic development of women. Last but not least, who can forget Sylvia Banda, a Zambian entrepreneur and a great storyteller. She said that “ I didn’t need to tell anyone about my first business. I just fried the food and filled the room with a nice aroma. People came to my door asking if I’ve started a restaurant”.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

Public Interest Law Gathering (PILG) 4-5 Sept 2018

Public Interest Law Gathering (PILG) 4-5 Sept 2018

By Tshenolo Masha.

 

At this year’s event, convened by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) ProBono.Org organised a plenary session on Transformation, both in the public interest law sector and the profession as a whole.

The panellists were Lisa Chamberlain (CALS), advocate Amelia Rawhani (Johannesburg Bar), Silomo Khumalo (Black Workers Forum), Mari van Wyk (Lexis Nexis) and Khululilwe Ntombi Bhengu (former ProBono.Org intern currently serving articles at SERI).The panel was facilitated by Tshenolo Masha of ProBono.Org.

The ojectives of the session were to look back on what has been achieved and some of the challenges within the public interest law sector and also to get an understanding of how the question of transformation is addressed by the legal profession as a whole.

The panellists covered aspects such as:

  • How transformation affects the sustainability and funding of organisations
  • A demographic overview of the profession in terms of race and gender (outlined in the Lexis Nexis 2016 survey)
  • How the lack of real transformation hinders young black female lawyers.

The session made it clear that a huge amount of work needs to be done to gain real transformation. We will be engaging young professionals to plan how active, progressive results can be achieved.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

Expropriation of land without compensation – Dialogue with the legal profession

Expropriation of land without compensation – Dialogue with the legal profession

By Tshenolo Masha.

 

In collaboration with Bowmans and Wits University, we held a dialogue on this hot topic on 23 August. The panel consisted of Prof. Elmien du Plessis (North West University), Nomzamo Zondo (SERI), Pierre Venter (Banking Association of SA), Stephen Grootes (SAFM) and Tebele Makhetha (Business Leadership SA). The dialogue was facilitated by Nompumelelo Seme from Wits.

The dialogue was specifically aimed at the legal profession and looked into various legal aspects of expropriation, for example, the regulation of land use and how it could be translated to the majority of the population who currently do not benefit from land in its current legal framework. It also discussed the interpretation of Section 25 of the Constitution in its reference to fair compensation.

There was lively debate and interaction from the large audience. The success of this event will be followed by a similar dialogue in Cape Town on 18 October.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

Visit from Judge Thina Siwendu

Visit from Judge Thina Siwendu

By Suraya McKenzie-Pillay, Johannesburg intern.

 

As part of ProBono.Org’s commitment to the career development of its legal interns, the Johannesburg office was honoured to have Judge Thina Siwendu accept an invitation to address them and provide an insight into her journey within the legal profession.

Judge Siwendu’s remarkable journey from being an articled clerk at Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc., a fellow at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, establishing and running her successful practice Siwendu Inc. after saying no to a job offer, and transitioning into the Judiciary was both inspiring and motivational.

Judge Siwendu explained how life will give you signals and you need to constantly be alert as to how you respond when venturing into new territory. Saying no to attractive opportunities is sometimes required and in order to grow on your journey you need to have a model of success which you continuously evaluate fearlessly.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank Judge Siwendu for taking the time to provide us with her insight, for encouraging and inspiring the legal interns as they venture onto the next step in their career paths and equipping them with invaluable knowledge and life skills.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

ProBono.Org Durban’s Fundraising Brunch

ProBono.Org Durban’s Fundraising Brunch

By Shamika Dwarika

 

3 August 2018 was a culmination of months of hard work and planning for the Durban office as we held our Fundraising Brunch at the DLI Hall in Greyville. The event served a dual purpose in that we sought to raise awareness about violence and abuse against women and children, while at the same time raising funds for our office. To our delight the day dawned clear, unlike last year’s torrential downpour, and attendees were able to show up in their finery.

As there was a chill in the air however, BarMotion were on the scene to provide free hot beverages to warm the soul. 1608 Beauty on Demand were also on hand to provide free massages to get attendees in the mood for the event. We were very thankful that sponsors saw the value in what we were trying to do and came on board to support us in various ways. Our financial sponsors were Sanlam, PSI and Lexis Nexis SA (being our key sponsor). We also received goodie bag items from TAFTA, Vovo Telo Umhlanga, Varsity College and others. And with so many raffle items up for grabs, everyone had an opportunity to win! In total, we had 49 sponsorships, every one of which was instrumental in making the event a success.

In addition, we had exciting entertainment by Bluff Dance, Sizamawala Dance Group and Iris Samianathan whose performances took us through the various stages of a woman’s life. Our keynote speaker told her tale of emotional and verbal abuse. While many tend to focus on physical or sexual abuse, other types of abuse can be just as damaging and poisonous. Attendees had an enjoyable outing but were also provided with food for thought. In summary, it was a day well spent for all.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

Pro Bono Law on Radio Today – the end of an era

Pro Bono Law on Radio Today – the end of an era

By Margaret Fish.

 

For the past eleven years ProBono.Org, in association with the Constitution Hill Trust and Norton Rose Fulbright SA, has had a fortnightly half hour slot on Radio Today dealing with aspects of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Patrick Bracher of Norton Rose Fulbright SA has been the gracious and able host of the show during its lifespan, leading our expert guests in conversation on a wide range of topics, such as media freedom, consumer and labour law, creative rights, the right to protest, land and education rights, among many others.

When we learnt in August that the station was moving from Parktown North to North Riding it was apparent that it would be difficult for both our guests and Patrick to drive out there in rush hour for the programme to air live at 18h30. Our last programme was therefore aired on 27 September. We are most grateful to Patrick for his dedication to the programme over the years. Many thanks also to our many willing and engaging guests, to Jacky Kanapi at Radio Today and to the station itself for hosting this programme. Podcasts of all the topics aired on the programme are available on our Facebook page.

 

Click here for our complete October 2018 Newsletter

Phumi Ngenelwa Celebrating 10 years with ProBono.Org

Phumi Ngenelwa Celebrating 10 years with ProBono.Org

Phumzile (Phumi) Ngenelwa is the Office Manager at ProBono.Org. On 1 July she celebrated her ten-year anniversary with the organisation.

She came from the firm CA Schoeman Attorneys in Northcliff, where she worked for two years as a filing clerk, later becoming an administrator. She heard about ProBono.Org through one of her colleagues, who heard there was a vacancy for a receptionist and passed on Phumi’s CV. She got the job and started on 1 July 2008.

At that time there were only 4 members of staff and the organisation was situated in Schreiner Chambers in Pritchard Street. Phumi was a jill of all trades at the time, making tea, cleaning and doing reception duties.

When ProBono.Org moved to Constitution Hill in 2009 Phumi took on the job of administrator, maintaining a database and undertaking simple bookkeeping, scheduling appointments for attorneys and providing clients with information and providing statistical reports.

Phumi’s duties later expanded still further to providing staff training on in-house systems and programmes, maintaining personnel files and leave, making travel arrangements, sending out newsletters and invitations and advertising vacant posts, among many others.

Phumi feels that hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed and her many promotions are evidence of this. During her time with the organisation Phumi has also furthered her studies and has a bookkeeping diploma and personnel management certificate.

She now mentors and guides the staff of over 28 permanent staff, and is particularly relied on and loved by our interns. Congratulations Phumi. Here’s to the next ten years. What would we do without you?

 

Click here for our complete August 2018 Newsletter

Our fight against domestic violence, one community workshop at a time

Our fight against domestic violence, one community workshop at a time

By Zunaid Latief, Cape Town

 

Domestic violence, in all its unsightly forms, reaches every corner of our society. Abuse is an issue that does not respect race, gender, sexuality, class, religion or wealth. It is however, especially prevalent in previously disadvantaged communities. Women, children and men are subjected to physical, verbal, psychological, emotional and financial abuse daily. Alarmingly, abuse most commonly occurs within a domestic setting. Bearing this in mind, we are faced with a simple question. What can we do to combat and prevent domestic violence?

Between the period of 17 January and 17 July 2018, the ProBono. Org Cape Town office has seen a significant decrease in the number of cases pertaining to domestic violence. We would like to think that our various community workshops held across Cape Town’s most poverty-stricken regions is positively influencing the number of clients seeking legal advice in respect of domestic violence. With the assistance of the selfless attorneys on our panel, we have managed to embark on a venture that entails educating the public and creating awareness on domestic violence and its far-reaching consequences.

The aim of these workshops is not limited to merely creating awareness. We also aim to equip communities with the legal tools and mechanisms afforded to them in terms of the Domestic Violence Act and the Harassment Act. For example, the court process involved with instituting an application for a protection order is thoroughly explained and attendees at the workshops are encouraged to liaise with the local South African Police Services and court officials when utilising these tools.

Previously, these workshops were limited to a few areas in Cape Town such as Khayelitsha and Macassar. However, during the course of the year, the staff at the ProBono.Org Cape Town office in collaboration with the enthusiastic attorneys on our panel, have overseen workshops in several new areas such as Elsies River, Kuils River, Gatesville and Athlone. Furthermore, we are looking at branching out even further, with workshops scheduled to be held in Bonteheuwel, Delft and Bishop Lavis in the near future.

The effects of branching out into these areas have been overwhelmingly positive. In tandem with the commitment of our panel attorneys as well as the dedication of the local community advice offices, a platform is being established where members of the community are being empowered with knowledge and equipped with mechanisms to combat and prevent domestic violence and, more importantly, educate their families, neighbours and colleagues in this regard.

While the fight against domestic violence is a long and tedious one, blighted with obstacles and hardships, it is evident that the most significant way to assist communities in navigating these obstacles is to empower them with knowledge, creating a sense of awareness and informing them of the legal mechanisms in place. This in turn breeds a sense of confidence amongst the community and, we believe, impacts the number of cases relating to domestic violence that come through our door. This idea must continue to be enforced and should later transcend into all other areas of concern in the law… one community workshop at a time.

 

Click here for our complete August 2018 Newsletter

Marriages (civil, civil unions and registered customary marriages) concluded with the (main/only?) aim of obtaining permanent residency and ultimately South African citizenship – are they valid marriages?

Marriages (civil, civil unions and registered customary marriages) concluded with the (main/only?) aim of obtaining permanent residency and ultimately South African citizenship – are they valid marriages?

By Elsabe Steenhuisen

 

This is a complex issue with legal and moral implications which are briefly dealt with here. The full discussion is available on our website.

Marriage is a special type of juristic act resembling a contract, but remaining sui generis as marriage creates a status while ordinary contracts do not. The right to marry is not protected in our Constitution, but it was held that sec 10 in the Bill of Rights should be interpreted so as to afford protection to the core elements of the institution of marriage and family life and the right and duty of the parties to live together as spouses.

In light of the above, should there be a problem when a person opts to change their status from unmarried to married in order to obtain other rights, and then opts to get divorced upon securing such other rights? In other words, is it correct to refuse a divorce in order to punish a person for obtaining these other rights by forcing a person to stay married? Is it a legal problem, a moral problem, or both?

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) discovered in 2010 that almost 7 000 South Africans ended up in fake marriages with foreigners in the past three years. “In cases where the transaction is honoured, the victim will approach Home Affairs… to apply for a new identity document, claiming his or her ID is lost. When records show the applicant is married, he or she will claim the marriage took place without his or her consent, and will then seek annulment. Often, when this scam happens, the foreigner has by then already obtained citizenship and/or permanent residence in the country.” (www.iol.co.za/news/ politics/7-000-locals-in-fraudulentmarriages-670475).

ProBono.Org encountered at least three scenarios in this situation:

  1. One of the spouses had no idea of the marriage but found out later by chance that he/she is married. One normally asks for expungement from the DHA and if necessary one would approach the court asking for an order to compel the DHA to expunge.
  2. Both spouses agreed to the marriage – the SA citizen is normally compensated or promised compensation for the assistance given to the non-SA citizen. The non-SA citizen usually disappears immediately or a short while thereafter. In most instances the parties did not have an intimate relationship or at most, a few liaisons.
  3. Both spouses agreed to the marriage – one of the spouses is totally innocent and the behaviour of the other spouse comes as a shock. Sometimes the SA citizen ensures large gifts from a foreign spouse and then disappears, or a SA citizen was naive and did not know that the noncitizen had ulterior motives.

Should the courts refuse to grant adivorce in scenarios two and three,based on the view that no marriage was concluded, or that the marriage was concluded for fraudulent purposes and the plaintiff comes to the court with unclean hands?

Sec 11(6) and 26(b) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 deal with the legal requirements for spousal visas and spousal permits. Once the marriage has been in place for five years, permanent residency can be applied for but the permit shall lapse if at any time within two years of the issuing of the permit the good faith spousal relationship no longer exists.

But the question remains: how should the court view marriages as stated in scenarios two and three – valid, void or voidable? The Martens (1952) and Maseko (1992) cases give us the answer. Provided the marriage has been properly solemnised, its validity is unaffected where the parties marry for a purpose extraneous to marriage. In such instances one can say that the parties married without the intention of establishing a true marriage relationship. For example, if they enter into it as ‘a joke’, or for the purpose of enabling one party to enter or remain in the other party’s country, or to be permitted to leave his or her own country – the marriage is valid.

Another problem arises – what grounds is the plaintiff going to present as reasons for an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship?

We advise that the allegations and the evidence should provide the real reasons for the marriage.

 

Click here for our complete August 2018 Newsletter