Law Students Answer the Call to Rekindle the Spirit of Voluntariness
On Saturday 17 February 2018, Siphephelo Sithole and Gift Luthuli final year LLB students who have completed their Clinical Law studies at UKZN, and Sphelele Dladla a Legal Study Skills tutor, also a final year Law student, joined the UKZN Street Law-Plus ProBono Outreach Programme team’s visit to Inanda. The programme is housed at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.
The UKZN staff team consisted of Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Acting Director of the UKZN Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Chair of Street Law SA; Mr Roshen Badul Singh, a Supervising Attorney at the Durban campus Law Clinic; Mr Mark Larkin, a candidate attorney at the UKZN Durban campus Law Clinic; and Ms Snenhlanhla Mchunu, a Law graduate who recently completed her articles at the UKZN Durban Campus Law Clinic and is presently applying for admission as an attorney.
Legal literacy information and legal advice was provided to clients at the home of Community Activist Mr Thami Shandu in Ohlange, Inanda under the trees on his property. Tables and chairs for the consultations and legal information sessions were provided by Shandu’s neighbours. Although confidentiality is a foundational legal practice principle, in community settings clients tend to share their problems with each other – except those of a very sensitive nature. As a result several clients were happy to be filmed by an Australian film-maker and his partner who had come to observe the programme.
The Street Law Plus Pro Bono Outreach Programme provides an opportunity for UKZN staff members and students to rekindle ex-President Mandela’s call for people to become engaged in volunteer work to the betterment of society. The UKZN staff and students voluntarily give up week-end days to engage in outreach activities outside of their office and classroom hours. All participants are carefully supervised by professionally qualified members of staff to ensure the quality of the service received by clients. Information from potential legal aid clients is recorded on Legal Aid South Africa application forms that are subsequently screened at the Campus Law Clinic to determine if they qualify for legal aid.
The Outreach Programme was attended by about 25 people from the local Ohlange community. Mchunu and Larkin together with the Law students, under the supervision of Singh, screened applicants for Legal Aid SA and gave general legal advice. McQuoid-Mason also provided legal information to clients. Most of the matters involved housing, while others related pensions, wills and problems with the Department of Home Affairs and the eThekwini Municipality.
The UKZN Street Law Pro Bono Outreach team will conduct monthly programmes in Ohlange. From this month (March 2018), the team also plans to work with DRAMAID to conduct similar monthly sessions to deal with gender-based violence at Cato Crest.