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Free legal advice for Cape’s vulnerable

Cape Town - About 60 lawyers will give free legal advice to the province’s most vulnerable communities over two days at the end of the month.

Justice Department regional head Hishaam Mohamed said the department would double the number of lawyers who would participate in the annual Justice Week.

“We know the large majority, especially the poor, do not have the funds to take up these legal matters. This will enable access to justice,” said Mohamed.

Lawyers will be stationed at 19 centres - 12 of these are situated in the City of Cape Town.

Advice centres will be open on August 28 and 29 in places like Athlone, Elsies River, Gugulethu, Mitchells Plain, Manenberg and Bonteheuwel.

Outside the city, advice centres will be set up in Beaufort West in the Karoo, Bot River in the Overberg and Worcester in the Boland.

The awareness week has been held every year since 2007.

Legal advice centres, along with the department, law societies and non-government organisations give advice and

last year about 30 lawyers assisted people with about 300 cases.

Mohamed said they chose the advice centres based on their assessment of the most vulnerable people in terms of issues like domestic violence and rape.

“The police helped us in identifying these areas.”

He said previously people sought legal advice on much broader topics like maintenance, protection orders, care for children, labour matters, protection against debt collectors and evictions.

“Most of the matters are taken up after the two days that lawyers met with people,” Mohamed said.

Charlene May, from the Legal Resources Centre, said last year they assisted people in Manenberg.

“The majority of people that we saw were women and the majority of issues we talked about was about access to housing.”

She said they would be in the Boland this year and expected more men seeking legal advice and wanting to find out about housing and evictions.

The department will also hold a workshop in Khayelitsha on August 27 to help people draw up their wills.

To find out where your nearest advice centre is call 021 462 5471.

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