Legal Aid SA bids farewell to outgoing Chairperson and other outgoing board members

March 7th, 2019
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By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA) held a farewell function for outgoing Chairperson, Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa, Dunstan Mlambo and five other non-executive directors on 22 February in Johannesburg. The incoming Chairperson of Legal Aid SA, Judge Motsamai Makume, said the dinner was to celebrate and pay tribute to the outgoing board members who, through good governance, contributed to help vulnerable South Africans. He said Legal Aid SA remains the beacon of hope for South African people as it continues to strive to put the people’s needs at the forefront of the organisation. He noted that Legal Aid SA is renowned and recognised for being one of the best model legal providers in the world.

Incoming Chairperson of Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA), Judge Motsamai Makume, celebrated and paid tribute to the outgoing board members of Legal Aid SA, at a function held in Johannesburg on 22 February.

Judge Makume said the duty of the board members is to simply oversee skills, set to the dominant area of performance of the organisation, to ensure an understanding of the work that the board members do, which includes considering risk, having integrity and taking accountability. He pointed out that the abovementioned points are at the top of the list for the effective running of the Legal Aid SA board. He added that the outgoing board members have sustained good governance and built a relationship of trust with the Legal Aid SA management team, who supported them and enabled them to be successful in their mandate.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, said access to legal aid is essentially ensuring access to justice, especially to the poor and vulnerable people. He added that as emphasised by the United Nations (UN), legal aid is an essential element of a fair, humane and efficient criminal justice system based on the rule of law. He pointed out that without access to justice many people around the world are at risk of having their rights violated. Mr Jeffery noted that good governance starts with leadership and added that in the case of Legal Aid SA it is the board. He said that the outgoing board members have made a huge contribution to the success of Legal Aid SA. ‘They have played a crucial role in oversight and the success of Legal Aid’s performance to increase access to justice to the indigent and vulnerable persons. We are sincerely thankful,’ Mr Jeffery said.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery said access to legal aid is essentially ensuring access to justice especially to the poor and vulnerable people. He spoke at Legal Aid South Africa’s farewell function.

Word from the outgoing Chairperson

Outgoing Chairperson of Legal Aid SA, Judge President Mlambo said saying goodbye to Legal Aid SA was bittersweet. He added that his term was characterised by good times even though there were also bad times. He pointed out that his term was supposed to run for a three-year period, however, that was not the case. He said many of his friends advised him not to join the organisation, but he told them it was going to be an ‘in and out thing’ at the time. Judge President Mlambo said when he was at Legal Aid SA, it was beyond every dream he had, and that the organisation had transformed from being ridiculed to being what it is today. He added that Legal Aid SA has been one of the successes of constitutional democracy and mentioned a few of Legal Aid SA’s accomplishments in the past few years. ‘We successfully coined and perfected what we call a mixed legal services delivery model that is being replicated internationally,’ Judge President Mlambo said.

Outgoing Chairperson of Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA), Judge President of the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa, Dunstan Mlambo, spoke at Legal Aid SA’s farewell function in Johannesburg.

Judge President Mlambo added that Legal Aid SA has become a dominant player in the international arena on access to justice, but specifically on legal aid services. He noted that Legal Aid SA was an instrumental entity in the adoption of the UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems. He said that one of the UN’s resolutions was spearheaded by Legal Aid SA. Judge President Mlambo said because of Legal Aid SA’s engagement with some entities, their Chief Executive Officer, Vidhu Vedalankar, was invited by the International Criminal Court to advise and guide them on how to set up the public defender model for the people appearing in that court. He added that it was because of the work that they do as Legal Aid SA, that he was invited to chair an Intergovernmental Expert Group in Cape Town, where they were revising the rules for treatment of prisoners. He noted the rules document is named the Nelson Mandela Rules.

Judge President Mlambo pointed out that Legal Aid SA has hosted and guided no less than 65 delegates from the African Continent, as well as delegations from all over the world, to come and learn how Legal Aid SA worked and to replicate their way of doing things. He added that Legal Aid SA invented the International Legal Aid conference that started in 2014, where they specifically said access to justice must be included as a sustainable part of developmental goals. Judge President Mlambo, thanked the Legal Aid SA team and said he had enjoyed the journey with the organisation. ‘I will forever be your supporter, just call on me I will be there,’ Judge President Mlambo said.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.