Young and newly admitted legal practitioners should be a part of the Wills Week initiative

September 9th, 2022

Legal practitioner and Acting Judge of the High Court, Nomahlubi Khwinana, photographed at the Women in Law Africa Awards 2022, after winning the award in the category for Best in Criminal Justice.


In this month’s SA Lawyer, De Rebus news reporter Kgomotso Ramotsho spoke to award-winning legal practitioner and Acting Judge of the High Court, Nomahlubi Khwinana, who is also known to her colleagues, family, and friends as Nthabiseng. Ms Khwinana has been practising as a legal practitioner for the past 22 years. She holds a BJuris and an LLB degree from the North-West University. She is passionate about criminal law, family law and the law on administration of estates.

Kgomotso Ramotsho (KR): One of the objectives of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014, is access to justice. In your own words, describe what access to justice means to you?
Nomahlubi Khwinana (NK): It means that everyone has the right to access justice, it is not about your race, your nationality and whether you are rich or poor. The right to access justice is enshrined in our Constitution. It is a basic principle of the rule of law, where the voiceless can be heard or advocated for, no discrimination, and those in power can be held accountable.

KR: Your practice is situated in the North of Pretoria, in the township called Mabopane. After so many years why do you choose to remain there, and not move to the city where we are told ‘the money is’?
NK: After having been afforded an opportunity by my principal who was practising in the township, I had already been privy to the injustices that the community was exposed to. I then took a decision that my practice would be in the area where it will be easy for the community to access me and for me to make a difference. I thought it would save them costs of travelling to town to get assistance. I was fortunate to meet the late Ms Tshegofatso Monama who was closing her practice to move to Legal Aid South Africa as she was appointed a Justice Executive. I then inherited her files and observed that she too was doing a lot of pro bono work. I have continued the legacy for both Mr Maseka and Ms Monama in providing access to justice. I also realised that I wanted to remain versatile in that I do not have to be bogged down to one area of the law. Being a small firm allows me to engage different areas of the law. This has assisted a lot in my acting stint as a judicial officer as I am knowledgeable in different areas of the law. I also wanted to plough back into the community considering those graduates whose families are unable to pay their fares to travel to town daily while serving articles and also to hire support staff in the community to whom I impart skills and knowledge in order for them to get opportunities in the job market. My office has been a training ground and I am proud of the calibre of staff that I have groomed over the years.

KR: Do you participate in the LSSA’s National Wills Week, and why is that?
NK: Yes, I do participate in the National Wills Week. I have been since it started, I remember years ago we use to do it in a stationary train in the township. All my professional assistants in the office understand that we are there to serve the people. We as an office go the extra mile by doing teaching through organisations that I am affiliated with, namely the National Association of Democratic Lawyers and the South African Women Lawyers Association at churches, centres, courts, and malls.

KR: National Wills Week is an annual initiative, with each year that you participate, are you seeing an increase in the number of people coming to get their Wills drafted?
NK: Yes, I have seen an increase in that people do not want to wait for free wills. They now realise the importance of speaking from the grave. However, during the period of Wills Weeks they queue at our offices. We have developed a system that assists in reducing queues wherein we allow them to book an appointment. We extend the period for those that registered timeously in the event that National Wills Week has lapsed.

KR: Do you think people are starting to realise the importance of a Will, more especially, people in the townships and rural areas?
NK: Yes, our people are becoming learned. The worrisome issue is in relation to properties without title deeds wherein we struggle to get a letter of authority/executorship.

KR: Would you encourage more legal practitioners to be a part of this initiative and why?
NK: Yes, I do encourage, especially the young and newly admitted legal practitioners to take on this initiative as I believe it allows them exposure to drafting different types of wills in preparation for more complex matters.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.
This article was first published in SA Lawyer in 2022 (September) DR 7.