Apr 16,2012 / News / Legal Brief

Werksmans Attorneys and Afrika Tikkun, a public benefit, non-governmental organisation, have opened a pro bono consumer law clinic in Diepsloot, a developmental township north of Johannesburg.

Diepsloot started out as a transit camp in 1995 and is now home to about 16 000 families or 200 000 people. It is a vibrant, densely populated community which lacks the formal provision of free legal assistance, a legal aid board or legal justice centres in the vicinity.

The Consumer Law Clinic will offer low income earners and the unemployed access to free legal services, primarily focusing on consumer issues and contractual disputes, assistance with social grants and assistance with late registrations of birth. These services have been identified as areas of need, specifically in light of the enterprising nature of many Diepsloot residents and the extent of both formal and informal commerce in the area.

Louise Bick, public interest lawyer at Werksmans Attorneys says, “We have recently reached the first year anniversary of the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) but many people still do not have access to the protection it provides. Another important aim of the CPA is to promote responsible consumer behaviour but consumers need to understand what such behaviour means. Our clinic focuses on two key areas: educating people about their consumer rights and offering legal help to exercise them at the time of buying something or signing a contract; and helping people enforce their rights by assisting with legal problems concerning something they have already bought or a contract that has already been signed.”

Some of the free legal advice that is available at the Law Clinic includes explaining contracts and terms and conditions, particularly relating to instalment sales and lay-by agreements, funeral policies and retirement annuities; consumer protection queries including questions concerning warranties, demands for payment, deposits paid and fraudulent money making schemes; and helping people gain access to services such as late registration of birth certificates and reviewing social grant applications that have been refused without reason.

Herby Rosenberg, Executive Deputy Chairman of Afrika Tikkun, is enthusiastic about this initiative. “We are thrilled that we have the opportunity to educate and inform the Diepsloot community and empower them to make responsible decisions in their consumer behaviour.”

To qualify for pro bono assistance, consumers must be unemployed or earn less than R7000 per household per month before expenses.
The Consumer Law Clinic is based at the Zikhuliseni Skills Centre, behind the Diepsloot Mall, Diepsloot and runs every Tuesday from 9h00 until 12h00. Contact (011) 535 8326 to book an appointment.