Postgraduate Students’ Project Provides Access to Justice for Public
Master of Law in consumer law students partnered with non-governmental organisation ProBono.Org in a community engagement project which provided free legal assistance and representation for those in need.
This four-month project was part of portfolio submission requirements for the Consumer Law module presented by Professor Tanya Woker.
Through this initiative, which ran for four months, students handled cases including those involving constitutional and human rights law, family law, the law of succession, property law, labour law, local government law and consumer law. The students also assisted with preparing research reports.
Commenting on the teaching and learning initiative, Woker said: ‘Students benefited enormously from this project because they were able to truly understand the difficulties consumers face when trying to sort out every day consumer problems. This made the theory so much more relevant for the students.’
From a student’s perspective, the programme was not only the perfect combination of theory and practice, it also sharpened their legal and research skills which are essential for a successful Law career.
Mr Mlungisi Nkosi, who handled a case involving the sale of a defective motor vehicle to a client, said the following about the experience: ‘My exposure to the various matters at ProBono.Org honed my legal skills and developed me significantly - nothing brought me greater joy than providing a legal solution to a complex issue, and consequently seeing justice being done.’
Fellow student Ms Ntombifikile Zulu’s research involved in assisting with drafting papers in cases where judgments had been taken against consumers and in submitting a complaint to the Consumer Commission in a case involving gym contracts.
Zulu said: ‘Working with Pro Bono expanded my research skills and the depth of my understanding of consumer protection laws contained in the Consumer Protection Act and the National Credit Act. The most crucial skill is to apply the legislation to different issues the consumer encounters,’ she said.