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South Africa: Legal Aid helps more People Access Justice
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Institution and HR Management
Country: South Africa
Created: Dec 14, 2016

“I am happy to say that Legal Aid is presenting a report which is positive. It is a report that reflects that we have delivered on our business plan for the financial 2015/ 16… We reached 750 000 South Africans… so many more people were able to access justice. We continue to deliver on our constitutional mandate to increase access to justice in South Africa and that is a good news story,” Vedalankar said.

Briefing the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on Wednesday, Vedalankar said Legal Aid has obtained its 15th unqualified audit, which took a lot a hard work across all the justice centres.

While Legal Aid South Africa’s mandate is to assist people who cannot afford legal services, it also tries to work on cases that have the potential to change the lives of the broader society, as opposed to helping just the one person represented in a specific matter.

This means Legal Aid has taken up cases that also set a precedent, which falls under the Legal Aid’s Impact Litigation Programme.

Vedalankar said over the year under review, Legal Aid took on 15 new Impact Litigation matters and a 93% success rate was achieved for the 14 matters that were finalised.

She said Legal Aid also assisted children in 17 701 criminal and civil matters.

Legal Aid named top employer

Vedalankar said, meanwhile, that at a time when it is not easy to retain talent due to competition from the private sector, Legal Aid continues to do all it can to retain lawyers.

She said the organisation’s efforts have been recognized. The Top Employer Institute has accredited Legal Aid South Africa as a top employer for the seventh consecutive year.

“In addition to our financial highlights in terms of our performance, I want to also advise that we have, for the seventh consecutive year, been accredited as one of the top employers.

“We have mentioned to the committee in the past that as an entity that is dependent on our lawyers to deliver our services, it is a human resources intensive organisation, which means our people are the people that make this organisation.”

Vedalankar said Legal Aid focused its efforts on improving its internal polices to ensure that employees and lawyers are happy.  

Legal Aid focused its policies on maintaining a competitive employment value proposition, ongoing leadership development, developing the 2015-2020 employment equity plan and embedding the HR Sectorial Strategy.

“What that means is that there are various standards in terms of people development issues, human resource issues. We benchmark our work against that.

“In terms of the R1.5 billion that was allocated to Legal Aid, we have spent it prudently. We have ensured that the money reaches our clients and that we can assist many more people.” 

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