Big break for Rhodes Legal Activism

By Carey Frazer

Rhodes University’s Legal Activism (LA) was hard at work this week after the society was asked to draft microlending manuals by a top South African law firm.

Johannesburg-based law firm Norton Rose contacted the student society after former committee member Adwoa Ankoma presented micro-lending manuals to the firm. The manuals were produced by LA. LA chair Jacqui Pinto said it was then proposed that  LA draft more manuals to be used in workshops by Norton Rose’s pro bono departments in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The manuals LA aims to draft will be used to aid presentations by Norton Rose providing information and education to members of the public who would otherwise have no knowledge of their legal rights in the workplace and various other aspects of their lives.

Legal Activism, founded in 2007, is a student initiated and run society. Members aim to empower the Grahamstown community through educational workshops which inform people about their rights as enshrined in the South African constitution.
Pinto said South Africans need to know how the constitution can benefit them. “We have this really great constitution in South Africa, but its aspirations ring hollow if people don’t know about their rights,” she said. She added that LA strove to make their workshops as informative and useful for the community as possible .

As a result of this colloboration with Norton Rose, LA’s influence now stands to extend to the rest of the country.
Although the collaboration is still in its planning phase, Pinto said it was a great opportunity for the LA members.  She added that a Manual Task Team was established and would soon start drafting manuals in the areas of HIV/Aids law, rape and domestic violence, labour, wills and estates, micro-lending and environmental law.

Pinto added that LA’s portfolios reached more than 800 people last year.
“If we get information to one person that is going to use it and translate it into their lives then that is of the most importance to us,” she said.


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