Access to justice week benefits the public
On a constant mission to provide access to good legal services and do justice to the public, department officials and members of the South African Women Lawyer’s Association (SAWLA) made their way to the Johannesburg Family Court as part of Access to Justice Week.
This year’s Access to Justice Week, which runs from the 25-29 August 2014, saw department officials partnering with the SAWLA to provide free legal advice and disseminate pamphlets containing information on children, maintenance, domestic violence, divorce and deceased estates matters.
Ms Kutlwano Matlholwa, an Assistant Director: Transformation of Judiciary and Legal Profession within the department said the majority of people who came to the Johannesburg Family Court, on 26 August, sought advice on maintenance matters. “Although most of them did not possess the required documentation for maintenance applications, we advised them accordingly before heading to the maintenance offices for application forms,” explained Ms Matlholwa.
One of the SAWLA members, Ms Zanele Mthethwa, reported that a large number of people who visited the information desk were women who were applying for maintenance for the first time. “We explained the process, gave them advice and handed additional information in a form of pamphlets. We also explained how maintenance defaulters are tracked and dealt with, we left many with hope that justice will be served,” expressed Ms Mthethwa.
Ms Tshidi Sebiloane, whose maintenance file was transferred from Sebokeng to the Johannesburg Family Court appreciated the good service she received from both SAWLA and departmental officials during her consultation.
“Courts can be so busy that we, as the public, end up not getting the information we need. The one-on-one session I had with Ms Mthethwa gave me clarity on when exactly my file will reach Johannesburg court and the date in which I will start receiving maintenance,” said Ms Sebiloane.
Another member of the public, Ms Milicent Hina was relieved, after her interaction with Ms Matlholwa, that it is possible to track the father of her child in order to finalise the maintenance process. “Before my conversation with Ms Matlholwa, I had no knowledge of the existence of maintenance investigators and officers, now that I do, I know exactly where to go if the father of my child needs to pay maintenance.” Ms Hina added.
Courts that have been visited throughout the week are Johannesburg Family Court, Alexander, Soshanguve, Palm Ridge and Pretoria.
By Mosima Mashao
Published: 29 Aug 2014