There’s an estimated four billion people who do not have access to justice, according to the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL). The hardest hit are poor communities in Africa, especially women.
Working to remedy this is Samantha Ngcolomba of Lady Liberty SA.
In 2014, the UCT law graduate launched her mobile legal offices. They travel to the country’s poorest communities and provide “underprivileged and marginalised women” without lawyers, free basic legal information and case resolutions.
Because of her innovative approach to increasing access to legal services, Lady Liberty, together with seven other organisations, is a semi-finalist in HiiL’s Justice Accelerator (HJA) programme.
HiiL seeks out and supports companies and individuals who are using technology to solve the challenges of access to justice around the world.
Other semi-finalists include, from Zimbabwe: Environmental Justice Reporting App, an environmental rights app; Mobile Corruption Reporting App, a platform for reporting corruption cases anonymously; and Road Rules, an app that assists with acquiring driver’s licenses as well as helping motorists fight traffic police corruption.
South African semi-finalists are: NuvaLaw SME, a platform for resolving claims and disputes; Comic Contracts which creates legally binding visual contracts for vulnerable people; and MoLLy, a mobile artificial intelligence app which aggregates and organises existing legal knowledge onto devices.
Find out more about how Lady Liberty is changing how we think about legal aid.
1. They Provide A Diverse Range Of Legal Services
Lady Liberty provides free basic legal information and resolution around cases such as domestic violence (protection and harassment orders), sexual assault, marriage (customary vs. civil: in and out of community of property), divorce (process, assets, maintenance and children’s rights), wills and labour.
In an interview with Huffington Post South Africa, Ngcolomba said the most common issues rural women deal with are domestic violence, maintenance claims and property claims, and that they process a lot of protection order applications from Kliptown Magistrates Court.
2. They Are Making A Difference
Since its launch, the organisation has reached about 1,500 women in 13 communities such as Alexandra, Diepsloot and Westbury, Ngcolomba told Huffington Post South Africa.
3. They Use Volunteers
Lawyers, paralegals and law students are encouraged to volunteer their legal skills on the website. Individuals without a law background, such as software developers and marketing specialists, can also volunteer.
4. They Crowdfund To Cover Legal Costs
The organisation also fundraises to fund court cases such as divorce and disputes. Donations can be made through their website.
5. Facebook Is A Sponsor
Lady Liberty was selected as one of the first 100 organisations in South Africa to receive Facebook Free Basics, a mobile application that virtually extends their services and nationally distribute vital legal information via mobile phones.
They are also hoping to expand their mobile tech services to other African countries.