In pursuit of social justice, a thirty-year-old Advocate Lunga Siyo, with the help of a friend, has founded a legal rights advocacy platform aimed at educating ordinary people about law and their rights. The platform “Just Law” produces weekly audio posts on SoundCloud that cover various legal topics. Siyo shared the idea behind this informative platform with the Daily Vox.
I founded JustLaw with my friend and business partner, Thabo Titus, who is a Computer Scientist based in Cape Town. Just Law is a legal rights advocacy platform dedicated to bringing the law to the people by educating the public about South African law and how to access justice through weekly audio posts that cover a variety of legal topics. The platform is intended to be informative and interactive.
We are also in the process of finalising JustLaw crowdfunding which will be dedicated to providing individuals and communities with a platform wherein they can crowdfund their legal cases. The crowdfunding platform will leverage on the unique power of the internet in order to achieve universal access to justice.
The irony about South Africa is that whilst it has a progressive Constitution, people can’t enforce their rights because they simply can’t afford legal services. In my view, the legal profession is primarily geared towards serving big corporations, government (including state owned entities) and wealthy people. Ordinary people like you and me simply can’t afford legal service, even those who are gainfully employed. I wouldn’t be able to afford myself! This is not a uniquely South African problem, it’s a universal problem.
Furthermore, people can’t enforce their rights due to inaccessibility of legal information. Legal information is generally littered with jargon, so we try to explain things in a simplified manner. Most legal information is in English, we also want to try to address the language barrier by putting out audio posts in different languages. We are in the process of putting together systems in this regard.
I was inspired by my mother who was a trade union activist when I was growing up. Our conversations in those formative years greatly influenced me; I was inspired by conversations I had with my father in my first year as a law student about access to legal services and the irony of people having rights that they can’t enforce. These formative conversations set the balls rolling. In university, I was inspired by Street Law, a legal rights advocacy program developed in 1972 by Georgetown University Law Center and championed by Prof David McQuoid-Mason of UKZN. I was also inspired by the University of the North West’s Students For Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) branch who successfully initiated a legal education program on Mafikeng FM in 2010 and 2011.
The platform’s significance will ultimately be determined by its consumers. I suspect that its greatest societal significance will be its educational value, South Africans will be better placed to enforce their rights.
As our product offering improves and our multilingual processes are in place , I certainly hope that community radio stations and national radio stations will make use of the audio posts. This will go a long way in providing people who don’t have access to the internet with access to the audio posts.
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