NWU Mafikeng Campus Law Clinic helps indigent communities
The Law Clinic on the Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU) is realising its dream of rendering free legal services to the poor and marginalised communities of Mahikeng.
As an institution providing access to justice to the poor, the Clinic affords specialised assistance to clients on a range of legal problems such as divorces, custody disputes, domestic violence, labour matters, contractual claims, consumer-related matters, delictual claims (personal injury), evictions, housing and land-related matters. Clients are represented in courts ranging from the District Magistrate Court to the High Court.
As a teaching institution, the Clinic is part of the Law Faculty at the NWU and has been in operation for thirty two years. It started as a small advice office with the assistance of students who participated on a voluntary basis. In 1984 the course Practical Legal Studies became a compulsory course for all final-year law students. With increased student numbers, the Clinic was able to provide legal advice and assistance to more people than before. During 1993 the Attorneys Act was amended to enable candidate attorneys to serve their articles of clerkship at a properly constituted and accredited law clinic. Many candidate attorneys have since entered the Attorneys profession having been trained at the Clinic.
“Our clients are mainly indigent residents of the greater Mafikeng area, but we also regularly assist clients from further afield. When the Clinic is unable to assist in a particular matter, the client is referred to another organisation better suited to deal with the problem. There is no charge for the services rendered by the Clinic, but in some instances clients may be asked to contribute towards certain expenses,” says Mr Rasikhalela, the Director of the Law Clinic.
The clinic is currently staffed by three practising attorneys of whom one is the director, four candidate attorneys, two interns, one secretary, one filing clerk and an administrative assistant.