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Windhoek residents show need for free legal advice

Ombudsman John Walters (left) attended the Free Legal Advice Day with the youthful president of the Law Society of Namibia, Nolan Swarts (middle) and Councillor Ambrosius Kandjii, representing the City of Windhoek.

A large crowd gathered at the UN Plaza in Katutura last week Friday to make use of the opportunity to consult a lawyer free of charge. Organised by the Law Society of Namibia in partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Namibian Financial Services Authority (Namfisa), the first Free Legal Advice Day to be held in Windhoek, offered any Windhoek resident access to the services and advice of a qualified professional lawyer. The uptake by the public was overwhelming. Similar events, as part of a pilot project, took place last year in Keetmanshoop and Ongwediva.

This week the Law Society said “as part of [its] objectives to make legal services more accessible to the public the Council during 2014 decided to organize Free Legal Advice Days to enable lawyers who are looking for ways to give back to their communities, an opportunity to do so.” The Law Society, in conjunction with the Office of the Ombudsman, held two Free Legal Advice Days during 2014 and both these events were very successful.  Approximately 25 persons sought advice at the 1st Free Legal Advice Day in Keetmanshoop on 15 August 2014 while about 125 persons sought advice at the 2nd Free Legal Advice Day on 12 September 2014 in Ongwediva.  With the continued support of the Office of the Ombudsman, the 3rd Free Legal Advice Day took place last Friday, 6 February at the UN Plaza in Katutura. Namfisa also participated at this event by contributing to the cost of refreshments and by making legal practitioners available to provide advice on matters related to financial services. The Law Society said this event was yet again a resounding success.  Not only members of the public, but also legal practitioners, turned up in huge numbers.  The professional complement consisted of five lawyers from the Law Society Directorate while the  Office of the Ombudsman assisted with administrative arrangements. Some sixty legal practitioners, all members of the Law Society, availed their services during the day, counselling some two hundred individuals seeking legal advice in matters as diverse as wills and estates, maintenance, divorce, domestic violence, labour law and financial services. “We thank all the legal practitioners, staff members of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Law Society of Namibia for their assistance and participation” the Society said in a statement released this week, adding that they were overwhelmed by the positive feedback from both the members of the public and the members of the Society. “We hope that these days will add value and assistance to those seeking advice and that it will show the commitment of the legal profession, the Law Society of Namibia, the Office on the Ombudsman and Namfisa towards the needs of the public.”

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