UKZN establishes pro bono unit for disadvantaged communities

The UKZN Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Campus Law Clinic celebrated this year’s Mandela Day by establishing a Pro Bono Unit to serve disadvantaged communities.

Pro Bono services refer to legal services provided by the legal profession without fees to persons who cannot usually afford to pay for lawyers.

The Pro Bono Unit will initially enable the staff members in the Centre and Clinic, together with Law students enrolled in the Street Law and Clinical Law LLB programmes, to provide free legal information and advice at the Impumelelo Centre for Persons with Disabilities in Ohlange

The service will be offered on the first Saturday of every month, beginning on Saturday 19 August. It is hoped that later other members of staff of the Law School, and members of Law student organisations such as Students of Law for Social Justice (SLSJ) will join the Unit as volunteers so that it can expand its activities to other areas.

On Saturday 15 July, Professor David McQuoid-Mason, Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Attorney Rishen Singh and Candidate Attorneys Marc Larkin and Solly Boshoff from the Campus Clinic, together with two LLB Law students, Ms Saadiya Kadwa, a Clinical Law student, and Mr Suhail Ebrahim, a third-year Law student, provided free legal advice to residents from KwaMashu at the Impumelelo Centre from 09h00 until 12h00. Mr Thami Shandu assisted with interpreting.

During that period six new potential clients were identified for the Campus Clinic. At the same time the team learned about 200 elderly and disabled people who were about to be ejected from their flats that had previously been rented from the eThekwini Municipality, but had been transferred to them as sectional title owners many years ago.

The Pro Bono Unit will act as a clearing house for the Campus Law Clinic which has a co-operation agreement with Legal Aid South Africa. Where the cases would be better dealt with by other lawyers the Clinic will refer them to organisations or private lawyers with whom the Clinic has agreements. Staff or students who would like to join the Pro Bono programme and assist with legal advice should contact Mr Marc Larkin at the Law Clinic at: Those who wish to assist with Street Law-type education should contact Ms Phumzile Xulu, the KwaZulu-Natal Street Law Co-ordinator at:

The Director of the Campus Law Clinic, Dr Dave Holness said that he was very pleased with the initiative and emphasised that in order for clients to receive a professional service it was essential that any students giving legal advice were properly trained. McQuoid-Mason mentioned that the presence of attorneys from the Clinic would ensure that this happened. He also said that he hoped that the Unit would give UKZN Law staff and students an opportunity to give effect monthly to the late President Mandela’s observation that ‘There is no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return’.

Words by: UKZNDabaOnline

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