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Meet Samantha Ngcolomba, The Lawyer Giving Free Legal Advice To The Most Marginalised Women

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Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017
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Samantha Ngcolomba

Attorney Samantha Ngcolomba founded Lady Liberty in 2014. The non-profit organisation travels to poor communities in Gauteng with a mobile office and provides legal information and services to women who do not have access to lawyers. This is in the form of workshops, consultations and further legal services if required.

The main areas of focus are customary and civil marriages, divorce, domestic violence and the compiling of wills.

Ngcolomba told HuffPost SA the need for the organisation came after realising that many women were already excluded from basic resources, including access to justice, for geographic and economic reasons.

The University of Cape Town law graduate believes the provision of legal information and services is a basic human right, and without it, women are more vulnerable and prone to abuse.

“Women in especially underprivileged backgrounds are stifled by cultural practices, expectations, misinterpretations and abuse of these. This results in various forms of abuse and vulnerability African women face,” she said.

The 34-year-old said the most common issues rural women deal with are domestic violence, maintenance claims and property claims. “We process a lot of protection order applications at our Pro-Bono Desk in Kliptown Magistrate’s Court.”

There also appears to be double standards in terms of inheritance — with male figures in the women’s lives illegally inheriting property that these women have a legitimate legal claim over.

In the nearly three years since its inception, the organisation has reached about 1,500 women in communities such as Alexandra, Diepsloot and Westbury. When she started the movement, Ngcolomba would drive to communities and offer assistance on her own. Recently, however, she has been able to use the organisation as a platform for other lawyers to complete their mandatory pro-bono hours, which assisted with the workload.

Ngcolomba envisions Lady Liberty being financially independent and reaching more women, nationally and across South Africa’s borders.

In the near future, it intends going digital. She wants to use platforms like the Facebook Free Basics mobi-site to reach those in the most marginalised communities.

“This would mean that women are able to virtually access our information and services and we wouldn’t rely on the face-to-face interventions alone,” said Ngcolomba.

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