Unam Sets Up Legal Aid Clinic

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Last week, the University of Namibia (Unam) officially opened its legal aid clinic that would offer free legal services to members of the public who might not afford private legal practitioners’ fees. Given the unequal distribution of wealth in the country as well as the high unemployment rate, quite a large number of people in society cannot afford paying for legal services. Dean of the Law Faculty at Unam Sam Amoo said the centre, to operate in Katutura, would serve a dual purpose. It will offer free services in the form of legal advice and legal representation in court to indigent persons who cannot afford such services. And this would offer practical training to Law students at the University of Namibia. The clinic would deal with various cases except for the drawing up of wills and administration issues such as liquidation and distribution. Amoo explained that it was agreed by the committee that a centre of this nature couldn’t deal with cases of such magnitude. According to Amoo, those who qualify for these services are single persons whose gross remuneration does not exceed N$1 200 per month; married persons where the combined gross income is less than N$1 800 per month, and an allowance of N$300 is made for each dependent child of the categories indicated above. The centre, funded by the Embassy of the United States in Namibia, started two years ago and was operating from the university premises. However, given its location, very few people knew about the services and thus the initiative to move it to Katutura, Amoo stated. Chief Justice Peter Shivute commended the university for the initiative, adding that this is an important development in the legal system, which the judiciary supports. Students would not only gain practical experience but by engaging in such activities, but they would also be serving the community. Students involved in the project are those in their final year and at present, there are 40 of them registered with the university. The centre would have at least three students on a working day to assist clients. It (the centre) would start operating early next week starting at 08h00 till 17h00 during the week and 08h00 till 12h00 on Saturdays. It would however be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.

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