The Claude Leon Foundation

LEGAL AID CLINIC, UNIVERSITY OF STELLENBOSCH

  
The Legal Aid Clinic functions as a law firm and forms part of the Univerity of Stellenbosch Law Faculty. The primary aim of the law clinic is to enhance the human dignity of their clients by giving them access to free, effective and quality legal services. The Clinic also trains future propspective human rights lawyers by providing practical legal training to final year law students.
 
Being situated in a rural area, the Legal Aid Clinic has since its inception focused on farm dwellers’ issues, including tenure security. Records by the Land Claims Court and the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform for the period between 2005 and 2010 showed that between 36,3 and 51,7% of all evictions from farms came from the Cape Winelands district. Due to the huge housing backlogs of municipalities in the Western Cape and the absence of housing projects earmarked for farm dwellers specifically, farm dwellers face a real possibility to be left homeless, if an eviction order is granted.
 
Since the ruling in Nkuzi Association v The Republic of South Africa (LCC/10/01) legal representation of respondents in eviction matters in terms of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (legislation applying to farm dwellers) became compulsory. In response to the dire need for legal representation for farm dwellers, the Legal Aid Clinic formed a team of lawyers with the purpose of assisting farm dwellers in the region. The law clinic is the only legal aid organization in the Western Cape which addresses evictions on a full time basis, not only providing legal presentation in the magistrates’ courts, but also in the Land Claims Court.
 
Legal history was recently made when the Legal Aid Clinic of the University of Stellenbosch approached the Constitutional Court to decide for the first time on the interpretation of a provision in the Extension of Security of Tenure Act. The case (Michael Hattingh & Others v Laurence Edward Juta (CC50/12) dealt with the scope of the interpretation of Section 6 (2) of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act. Instead of narrowing the definitions of concepts such as “family” or “culture” in order to dertermine the right to family life, the Constitutional Court placed emphasis on the balancing of interests of the parties and upholding constitutional values.
 
Access to Legal Aid Clinic’s services are not only available on the Campus of the University of Stellenbosch at 44 Banghoek Road, Stellenbosch, but also at advice offices in Klapmuts, Franschhoek, Ceres and since March 2013 also at the University’s Ukwanda Medical Centre in Worcester.
 
The Claude Leon Foundation has been instrumental in not only sustaining the important work of the Legal Aid Clinic in the field of tenure security, but also enabling the significant expansion of the above mentioned free legal services to farm dwellers in the rural areas of the Cape Winelands region. 

  
 

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