The University of Fort Hare Legal Clinic was established in 1995 in terms of Rule 19 of the Attorneys Act 53 of 1979. The Legal Clinic is based in East London, but however a Satellite office of the Legal Clinic was re-established in Alice on the 3rd April 2018. The primary objectives of the Legal Clinic is to provide access to justice, practical legal training to students, and Candidate Legal Practitioners, legal assistance to advise offices, building awareness of constitutional rights, and prioritization of socio-economic rights and environmental rights for vulnerable groups.
The University of Fort Hare Legal Clinic provides professional legal services to indigent people, especially women, children and rural poor in the following areas of the law:
Family matters: this includes but not limited to divorces, children’s rights, interdicts, maintenance, application for curatorship, Wills, protection orders etc.
Rental Housing Disputes,
Labour Law Matters,
Public interest law litigation,
Criminal matters:( Magistrate Court, and High Court),
Socio- Economic Rights, and Environmental Rights matters etc.
The main office and the satellite office are operating between 8H00 am and 4H30 pm daily excluding weekends and public holidays.
The Legal Clinic is constituted as follows:
Director: Mr Siyabulela Pango
Administrator: Ms Nomveliso Lamati (East London)
Temporary Administrator: Mr Ndyebo Nini (Alice)
Tel: 040-602 2236
The Clinic has several stakeholders. These include the Attorneys Fidelity Fund; Cape Law Society; Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre; SAPS; Office of the Attorney; Commission on Gender Equality; Family Advocate's Office; SAULCA; Black Lawyers Association; Legal Aid South Africa, and the East London Magistrate Court. We are constantly seeking to improve this area.
Funding and Professional Assistance
The Law Clinic’s primary source of funding as far as salaries of staff are concerned is the Faculty of Law. Currently the Attorney’s Fidelity Fund also makes a substantial contribution towards the running expenses of the Law Clinic and has committed to doing so from 2008. This contribution is made on condition that the Law Clinic continues to make a satisfactory contribution to free legal services to the community. Quarterly reports are required to be submitted to the Attorney’s Fidelity Fund in this regard.
As far as legal assistance and court cases are concerned, final year LLB students, supervised and assessed by the professional staff of the clinic, attend to consultation with clients, discussing the clients’ legal problems with the attorneys, doing legal research and giving legal advice to clients, opening of files and managing the finances on the file, dealing with housekeeping issues, drafting of letters, court pleadings and motions to court, as well as preparation of court cases in general. All of this is continuously and extensively supervised and corrected by the attorneys on a daily basis. The actual appearances in court have to be done by the attorneys themselves. Since funding for court cases is not available or provided for in the Law Clinic budget, there is always a need for expert legal assistance and the assistance of other experts on a pro bono basis, especially when a case has to be heard by the High Court.
The Clinic is constantly involved with student initiatives. These include the CLASI Project; Student Chapter with the Black Lawyers Association; Law Student Council and Access to Services initiative; SLSJ; Professional Skills and Ethics Mock Trials, and the All African Human Rights Moot Court Competition Development; Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre; SAPS; Office of the Attorney; Commission on Gender Equality; Family Advocate's Office; SAULCA; Black Lawyers Association; Legal Aid South Africa, and the East London Magistrate Court. This is one of the main areas of the legal clinic and as we continue to grow we hope to incorporate more students and the local communities.