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n a shared commitment to empowering marginalized communities regarding their legal rights and accessing those rights, the Faculty of Law at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) and the Consumer Goods Services Ombud (CGSO) are exploring meaningful partnerships.

Recently, Ms Queen Munyai, CEO of CGSO met with the Dean of the Faculty, Prof Mzukisi Njotini; the deputy dean Dr Simphiwe Bidie and, the Heads of Departments, to set the ball rolling towards this shared goal.

The meeting happened during the Faculty’s annual career day last month.

According to Ms Munyai, at the core of this venture is bridging the gap between academic knowledge and practical application and ensuring that no one is left behind in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

“We recently did a policy on vulnerable communities where we noticed that some communities, especially in the deep rural areas in the Eastern Cape were not aware of their consumer goods and services rights. As such, they are exploited by suppliers. We then decided to explore partnerships with the UFH Faculty of Law to ensure that, whilst we address complaints, empirical data is developed to inform policies and procedures that will ensure that such incidents of exploitation do not occur,” said Ms Munyai.

Prof Njotini said the centre of the envisioned partnerships would be the development of programmes and centres of research for knowledge generating.

“The knowledge developed, and the research produced will not only benefit our students, but will also significantly benefit our societies. Such partnerships help tremendously to reach out to people on the ground and make them conscious of what the law says about their consumer goods and services rights.”

Both parties highlighted the importance of such joint ventures, emphasizing the significance of community engagement and data collection to inform legislative reforms and address pressing challenges on the ground. “By working closely with industries and translating academic knowledge into practical solutions, we aim to foster a holistic approach to consumer awareness and empowerment,” said Prof Njotini.

Looking ahead, UFH and CGSO are set to host a collaborative meeting with the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the National Consumer Tribunal (NCT) to pool resources and expertise to enhance consumer protection measures and improve the overall legal landscape for people on the ground.