Can’t afford to hire a lawyer or pay expensive court fees? Here are your options for seeking legal aid and advice.
Legal Aid Board
In criminal matters, everyone is entitled to legal representation. In civil matters, you must pass a means test, based on income, to qualify for assistance. The means-test ceiling is low, so aid is available only to the lowest income groups.
To find out whether you qualify, approach the legal aid officer at your nearest magistrate’s court – a legal aid officer is appointed at every magistrate’s court – or your nearest Legal Aid Board justice centre.
There are over 40 Legal Aid Board justice centres throughout the country. For more information, click here.
Other sources of legal assistance
You can also approach the Legal Aid Bureau, the Legal Resources Centre, or a university law faculty (see below).
Finally, you could approach an attorney directly. This will cost more, but can be very effective – an attorney’s letter threatening legal action often settles a matter quickly. (Click here to find an attorney in your town or province.)
Legal Aid Bureau. A private organisation which offers legal help to the poor. If you pass a means test, your case will be investigated and may be referred to an attorney for legal action.
- Tel: (011) 834 8561
Legal Resources Centre. An independent non-profit organisation which provides legal services to poor, homeless and landless individuals and communities.
- Tel: (011) 403 7694/0902
- Contacts nationwide (mouse on “about us”, click on “contact details”)
- Web site
University legal clinics. Most university law faculties have legal clinics to which consumers may take complaints. Contacts for university law faculties:
- University of Cape Town: (021) 650 3551 or the UCT Law Clinic
- University of Durban-Westville: (031) 204 4445/4821
- University of Fort Hare: (04060) 22236
- University of the Orange Free State: (051) 401 2451
- University of Natal (Durban): (031) 260 2867
- University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg): (033) 260 5778
- University of the North: (015) 268 2903
- University of the North West: (018) 389 2510
- University of Port Elizabeth: (041) 504 2190
- Potchefstroom University: (018) 299 1950
- University of Pretoria: (012) 420 4158
- Rand Afrikaans University: (011) 489 2141
- Rhodes University: (046) 603 8427
- University of South Africa: (012) 429 8439
- University of Stellenbosch: (021) 808 3195/2
- University of Venda: (015) 962 8217
- Vista University (Bloemfontein Campus): (051) 505 1386
- University of the Western Cape: (021) 959 2756
- University of the Witwatersrand: (011) 717 8562 or the Wits University Legal Aid Clinic
- University of Zululand: (035) 902-6192 or 793 3911
Finding an attorney
Contact the Law Society of South Africa (their web site has a search facility for finding an attorney in your town or province) or your provincial law society – see below. You can also try the search facility on Attorneys.co.za.
Law Society of South Africa. Umbrella body for the attorney’s profession in South Africa.
Provincial law societies:
- Law Society of the Cape of Good Hope: Tel (021) 424 8060, Web site
- Law Society of the Free State: Tel (051) 447 3237
- Gauteng Law Council: Tel (012) 323 0400, Web site
- KwaZulu-Natal Law Society: Tel (031) 451 304, Web site
- Mpumalanga Attorneys Council: Tel (017) 647 298, Fax (017) 647 1260, Web site
- North West Circle Council: Tel (014) 592 9315/6, Fax (014) 597 1591, Web site
- Law Society of the Northern Provinces: Tel (012) 323 0400, Web site
- Also: Black Lawyers Association: Tel (011) 403 0802, Fax (011) 403 0814
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