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Access to justice for Otjiwarongo residents in need of legal counselling

Access to justice for Otjiwarongo residents in need of legal counselling

Free legal advice for the Otjiwarongo community came early this year when the Law Society of Namibia conducted its first free legal advice day for 2018 recently.

Coinciding with a circle meeting of lawyers in the north-central region, legal practitioners, Law Society council members and lawyers from the Office of the Ombudsman came together at the Swanevelder Community Hall in Otjiwarongo to help those residents in need of counselling and for whom a conventional legal service is unaffordable.

Altogether, 63 individuals were received that day by a small contingent of lawyers ready to make justice accessible to anybody with a need for legal counsel.

Free Legal Advice group photograph at Swanevelder Community Hall in Otjiwarongo: Seated from the left, Gaby Ferreira, the Law Society’s Office Administrator, Gissellah Jacob from the Office of the Ombudsman and Retha Steinmann, the Law Society Director. Standing are Hendrik Mauyoma from the Office of the Ombudsman, Fabiola Haraoes, a legal practitioner, Timothy Shangadi, a Law Society Councillor, Appolos Shimakeleni, also a Law Society Councillor, and Wihan Bezuidenhout, a candidate legal practitioner.

The Law Society of Namibia said the regular free legal advice days are part of its commitment as regulator to make legal services available to communities where cost is an important consideration.

“The Free Legal Advice Day forms part of the Law Society’s objectives to make legal services more accessible to those members of the public who can not afford legal services. The Office of the Ombudsman has been instrumental in the success of [these days] since the project was launched in August 2014 by supporting this project and assisting the Law Society with the venues and advertising in the region,” the society said in a statement announcing the beginning of the 2018 cycle.

The project started modestly in 2014 with only two free legal advice days conducted during the year. Demand and popularity grew steadily culminating in five days last year at different dates in Mariental, Ongwediva, Windhoek, Swakopmund and Gobabis.

Counselling sought most pertains to labour issues, domestic violence, wills and estates, and the legal implications of divorce and maintenance. The counselling is done by legal practitioners from the area, assisted by legal practitioners brought in by the Law Society and by members of the society’s council.

“The Chairperson, Council and Directorate of the Law Society of Namibia sincerely thank all involved for their participation and support in making this the Free Legal Advice Day project a success,” stated the Law Society.

Another five free legal advice days are scheduled for the rest of the year. These will be held at Rehoboth on 13 April, Oshakati on 15 June, Gobabis on 13 July, Windhoek on 03 August and Walvis Bay on 28 September.


Caption: Captured during a break between legal advice sessions at the Law Society’s free legal advice day in Otjiwarongo, are from the left, Chief Ananias Soroseb of the Hai/Omsan Royal House, Mr. Appolos Shimakeleni, a Law Society Councillor, His Worship Benns Haimbondi, the Mayor of Otjiwarongo and Mr Hendrik Mauyoma from the Office of the Ombudsman.


 

About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and is working on her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She believes education is the greatest equalizer. She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.