Understanding Legal Aid and how to access it
3 May 2019 FAMILY
By Zuko Komisa
Micheal Motsoeneng-Bill recently interrogated whether or not Legal Aid is an inferior product for those who can’t afford expensive lawyers.
Legal Aid South Africa’s role is to provide legal aid to those who cannot afford their own legal representation. This includes poor people and vulnerable groups such as women, children and the rural poor.
We wanted to find out:
What services Legal Aid provides?
Does legal aid help with divorce?
Can you file criminal and civil charges?
Mfanafuthi Shabangu, Legal Aid SA Communications Executive, spoke on the threshold of income one must have to access legal aid services.
“Previously the threshold was R5 500 and now it is sitting at R 7 400 that is for someone who is unmarried. For the household, it was sitting at R 6 000 now it sits at R 8 000. We also look at the person’s assets, as in movable assets, what a person has; it was previously sitting at R 100 000 and now it’s R128 000. That’s what makes us excited as it means more people can have access to justice.”
Hanoneshea Hendricks, Legal Aid SA, spoke on the kind of matters they deal with and which areas of the legal framework they deal with specifically.
“We have legal Aid South African regulation .In the regulation it details the kind of regulation we are going to get involved in, as well as a legal matter for which legal aid cannot be granted… Our focus is on vulnerable groups, like children, matters in the children’s court, children in need of care, applications related to access as well as contact care”
To access assistance through Legal Aid SA, you can go to their Local Offices which are usually near courts, with each office serving between 10 and 20 courts.
Listen here to here more about how the Legal Aid Office work: