Dr Zamani Saul committed to fight the scourge of gender based violence and femicide.
The Office of the Premier and the gender based violence interdepartmental task team donated R250 000 to the South African Women Lawyers Association (Sawla) development trust which provides support and financial assistance to legal practitioners.
Premier Dr Zamani Saul committed to fight the scourge of gender based violence and femicide (GBVF).
“It has a devastating impact on families and the economy. Government needs to be at the forefront of upholding the protection of women to end violence and neglect.”
He noted that there was a misconception that GBVF only affected poor households.
“While it is often associated with poverty and alcoholism, GBVF and violence among intimate partners also occurs in highly educated and affluent households and sadly in the legal profession.”
Saul added that children who grew up in homes typified by GBVF often became perpetrators or victims of domestic violence.
“In our province, for the first three months of this year, a total of 1 628 cases of crimes against women were reported. This represents an increase of 33,22 percent in comparison with the reported cases for the same period last year. Noteworthy is the fact that the conviction rate for crimes against women for this period increased to 80,7 percent.”
He added that 434 cases for crimes against children were reported for the first three months of this year.
“This represents an increase of 21,2 percent in comparison with the reported cases for the same period for the previous financial year. The conviction rate for crimes against children for this period is 82,9 percent.”
Chairperson of the Sawla development fund, Nomahlubi Kwinana, indicated that this was the first time that the organisation received funding from government.
“We are very grateful for the R250 000 from the Office of the Premier and hope that other state departments will follow suit. The Sawla development fund offers interest free loans of up to R50 000 to legal practices which are repaid after a year. Qualifying persons can use the loan to rent offices with a better location or to complete courses such as notary and conveyancing that will assist them in attracting more clients. We work in partnership with companies that can provide legal practitioners with books, free software and automated billing systems.”
Kwinana stated that they also offer mentorship programmes to assist struggling practices.
“The funding is also utilised to assist practices to pay stipends in the region of R10 000 to graduates or interns.”
She added that bursaries were offered to deserving law students, not necessarily based on their academic performance but rather on their backgrounds and drive to study.
Law student Naledi Monabe from Kimberley said she was studying law through Unisa.
“This is my first year and I would not have been able to study full time had I not received a bursary from Sawla.”
She added that she set her sights on becoming a judge once she has graduated.
Sawla student chapter president Nomagugu Mahlanga, 28, from Johannesburg is studying her final year in law through Unisa and works part time.
“I wake up at 2am and study until around 6am when I get ready for work. I work in order to support my grandparents who raised me from the age of five. Once I graduate I would like to go into private practice specialising in conveyancing.”
She added that Sawla offered a bridging programme to graduates to provide them with on-the-job training.
“Law students are often unable to find employment as they do not have the practical skills. Graduates can shadow clerks in judges’ chambers in order to gain experience. I also champion dealing with depression and mental illness in the legal fraternity.”