Legal aid entails offering assistance to individuals who are not in a position to afford legal representation and access to the court system. This form of aid is deemed central in the access to justice for it ensures that people are equally represented before the law for a fair trial. As provided by Article 6.3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, legal aid is essential to guaranteeing equal access to justice.
What is Legal Aid in South Africa?
Legal aid in South Africa is mandated with the task of ensuring access to justice and the upholding of the fundamental rights of a person to get legal representation as outlined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. By providing education and information concerning legal rights, legal aid in South Africa helps in the sensitization process and therefore build a justice system supporting justice for all nationally, regionally or internationally while creating safer communities.
Who gets Legal Aid in South Africa?
Persons who have been accused of criminal matters where there is a high possibility of injustice occurring. Such people have the right to receive legal aid where they are offered legal advice and civil representation in a c urt of law with the ultimate aim to protect and defend their rights.
Also, every arrested or detained person has the right to a free and fair trial. These rights extend to having a legal practitioner who has been assigned to them by the South African government which also caters for the expenses of the whole process.
Finally, poor people who cannot afford representation are offered legal aid. This group of people also constitute people such as women, children, and people residing in poor rural areas in South Africa.
How to get legal aid in South Africa
An individual can get legal aid assistance in South Africa through various option:
- Through free legal (Pro bono) services by attorneys which is administered by the legal practice council in South Africa.
- Through organizations offering free legal services.
- Or finally, through Legal Aid South Africa.
Where can you find pro bono attorney in South Africa?
Pro bono is administered by legal practice council which is a national statutory body where attorneys and advocates are registered. Qualifying for a pro bono entails passing ‘means test’ which is a maximum monthly or no income test and must have a legal problem. Legal practice council refers you to the attorney who offers free assistance to you (pro bono).
Legal Aid South Africa is mandated to provide such services, under the funding of the tax payer.
Organizations that offer pro bono services in South Africa
Some of the organizations that can offer assistance with a legal issue in the context of legal assistance in South Africa include the South African Society for Labour Law (SASLAW).
SASLAW Pro Bono is a non-profit organization formed by SASLAW which is tasked with the responsibility of administering the Bono project in the four labor courts in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth.
The other organization that offers legal assistance in South Africa is PROBONO.ORG which is a non-government organization that works with the private legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to the poor.