Legal Aid SA engages stakeholders on its five-year strategic plan

March 2nd, 2020

Legal Aid South Africa Chief Executive Officer, Mantiti Kola, gave a presentation at the organisation’s strategic plan meeting for 2020 – 2025 stakeholders’ consultation on 21 January in Pretoria.

By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Legal Aid South Africa (Legal Aid SA), held a strategic plan meeting for 2020 – 2025 stakeholders’ consultation on 21 January in Pretoria. The meeting was an opportunity for Legal Aid SA to engage with its stakeholders on the organisation’s five-year plan. The Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid SA, Mantiti Kola, said that the strategic plan meeting confirms the position of Legal Aid SA and its vision of a just society. Ms Kola said its mission of providing equal access to justice to the indigent and vulnerable cannot be attained or realised by Legal Aid SA alone. She added that the noble vision of a just society requires that Legal Aid SA and its stakeholders engage and work together in pursuing a common vision for justice.

Ms Kola pointed out that the 2020 – 2025 plan sets the direction for the organisation to take in corporate policies and prioritise programmes and plans for the five-year period. She said the five-year programme will be the foundation for Legal Aid SA’s annual performance plan, business plan and operational plan. Legal Aid SA’s strategic plan focused on –

  • the overall look of Legal Aid SA;
  • the environmental analysis;
  • the strategic shifts that Legal Aid SA would like to embark on in the five-year period;
  • the vision, mission and values of Legal Aid SA; as well as
  • the strategic risks and the strategic plan.

Ms Kola spoke on the mandate of Legal Aid SA as expected by the Legal Aid South Africa Act 39 of 2014. Legal Aid SA provides legal aid and legal advice; it provides legal representation at state courts; and it provides education and presentations on legal rights obligations. Ms Kola added that in terms of the clientele – with regards to criminal matters – Legal Aid SA will assist anyone in South Africa provided they meet the income threshold limit to qualify for legal aid in terms of their income and their assets. With regard to civil cases, Legal Aid SA does not assist non-South African citizens, however, the organisation does take on impact litigation for aspects where the organisation envisages that clients rights should be protected.

Ms Kola pointed out that Legal Aid SA has capacity for 2 756 staff members, but from March 2019, the organisations staff members amounted to 2 557, adding that there has been a vacancy turnover rate of 5,8%. Seventy-nine percent of the Legal Aid SA staff are legal practitioners, of which 622 legal practitioners deal with criminal matters, and 220 legal practitioners deal with civil matters. She added that there are 180 paralegals and 536 support staff.

Ms Kola spoke about the organisation’s service delivery model and said Legal Aid SA mostly uses their in-house legal practitioners, who deal with 95% of the matters. She added that the organisation also has a judicare system, in which their clients are assisted by external legal practitioners who are briefed by the organisation and that only comprises of 3%. Ms Kola also noted that Legal Aid SA also has agency agreements with other parties.

In terms of the national footprint, Ms Kola said that Legal Aid SA has 64 offices locally, as well as 64 satellite offices, six provincial offices and one national office. With regard to service delivery highlights, she pointed out that Legal Aid SA in the previous financial year assisted 416 203 clients in new matters and of those matters they finalised 410 396. The organisation offered legal advice to 30 850 clients and in terms of the distribution between legal practitioners, most of the work was done by in-house legal practitioners, with most matters being dealt with at local offices.

Ms Kola said that the organisation was pleased that the service delivery was done within its allocated budget, she added that Legal Aid SA spent 98% of what was allocated to them in the prior year. She noted that this was also achieved because of strong governance, which culminated in Legal Aid SA achieving its 18th conservative unqualified clean audit and being mentioned as a Top Employer, with its human resource services being benchmarked with others in the private and public sector.

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