Cape Town - A law firm in Port Elizabeth has offered free legal help to rape victims.
Commercial and civil litigation practice Vlok Attorneys tweeted: “Given the appalling prevalence of rape in SA, we will be offering all legal help to rape victims completely free of charge.”
The tweet received a lot of attention, with many Twitter users applauding the gesture.
Owner of Vlok Attorneys Andre Vlok said that when he read about the rapes he became despondent and thought of ways he could help make a difference.
Vlok said they had already helped a few victims and that their service would be available at any time of the day.
“We have two full time lawyers that are involved and we will walk the victims through the legal process, show them how it works and we will go as far as going to court with them and we hope that others (lawyers) will do the same… we don’t want to read any more stories about rape,” Vlok said.
Vlok said the tariff for legal help is usually about R1 000 an hour.
“The only limit will be that we are a small firm and we could get swamped, but this is an invitation to other lawyers to do the same, even if it is limited,” Vlok said.
Director of the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) Jennifer Williams welcomed the move, saying it was the first time she had heard of lawyers offering free legal help to rape victims.
Williams released a statement saying it was time for a national commission of inquiry into gender-based violence as many perpetrators were not prosecuted and many rape cases went unreported.
The WLC received 127 gender-based violence complaints - including rape - in the past 12 months.
Nazma Hendricks, operations manager at the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, said they also offered rape victims court support.