The LegalWise South Africa Impact Litigation Unit
As a champion of justice and the pioneer in legal expenses insurance, LegalWise has been providing our Members with affordable access to justice for almost 40 years.
Committed to enforcing and defending the legal rights of our Members, we stand for fairness, integrity and honesty, creating an enduring legacy of providing you with affordable and timeous access to justice.
With our Impact Litigation Unit, we are extending the right to access to justice, at no cost to applicants, to not only include our Members but also other vulnerable individuals within the broader South African society.
What is Impact Litigation?
Impact Litigation is a legal strategy that aims to bring about positive social change on a systemic level. Unlike normal legal services, that focuses on assisting one particular client, Impact Litigation seeks to assist a larger population with the same issue; by getting laws, policies, and practices that cause harm or are unfair or discriminatory, changed for the good of all.
Bringing about social change on a systemic level
The LegalWise Impact Litigation Unit will consider matters of public interest that will achieve broad legal change to systemic issues by challenging laws, policies, and practices that are unjust or discriminatory.
The work of the Unit will be done at no cost to the applicant/s, and all required litigation will be funded by LegalWise. It will include, but will not be limited to, research, advocacy, as well as planning and preparing selected litigation matters on behalf of applicants for Court.
The real impact of Impact Litigation
Though it is early days, some of the cases the LegalWise Impact Litigation Unit is currently focusing on include assisting South Africans who have had their Identity Documents (IDs) blocked. We have taken proactive steps to challenge the Department of Home Affairs' unlawful practice of blocking identity documents. This pivotal case was heard in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday, 20th September 2023 and we await the judgment.
This case originates from an application we submitted on behalf of our Members, who have been grappling with the distressing issue of blocked identity documents, where they were receiving no assistance from the Department of Home Affairs, despite cooperating with the Department, and submitting the necessary documents. Some of our fellow citizens have endured this burden for an extended period, ranging from 3 to 10 years. We firmly believe that this situation is neither just nor reasonable and contravenes Section 33 of the Constitution, as well as sections in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
Blocked identity documents have profound implications for individuals' lives, rendering them unable to assert their identity and access their fundamental rights as citizens. These documents are indispensable for various essential activities, including marriage, banking, healthcare access, employment, and even the exercise of voting rights. Such violations of the right to identification have far-reaching consequences for other constitutional rights, including equality, human dignity, citizenship, and freedom of movement.
Our objective through this legal action is to compel the Department to establish legislation and regulations that provide clarity on the blocking and, more importantly, the unblocking of identity documents. This case holds immense significance as it directly impacts the fundamental rights and privileges of our citizens.
Written submissions were also made to the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Social Services as well as the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, commenting on the proposed Children’s Amendment Bill. Further, we have written submissions to the Director-General of the Department of Transport in response to the Draft Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill, 2023. The proposed amendments could have far-reaching negative consequences, and we are closely monitoring its progress to safeguard the rights of all citizens.
Impact Litigation is less about compensation, although it can involve that, but more about making a point to stop rights violations and to seek adequate relief. In our South African context, Impact Litigation matters because it provides a means for individuals and organisations to hold the government and private sector accountable for its actions and to seek redress for grievances.
Thought Leadership – International Leadership Association 25th Global Conference:
Lithalethemba Stwayi, Manager: Impact Litigation co-presented and co-hosted a panel discussion at the International Leadership Association's 25th Annual Global Conference, which centered around the theme "Cultivating leadership for a thriving future" on 3 October 2023.
On 13 October 2023, Stwayi, took part in the Rule of Law and Good Governance Roundtable Discussion. This event was hosted by the U.S. Public Diplomacy Office in partnership with the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice. It is a part of the Vance Center's 20-year celebration and conference, focusing on "The Lawyer as Rule-of-Law Activist: Activating the Next Generation."
Realising a more equal, just and thriving society.
We will constantly be on the lookout for public interest matters and will initially focus on cases pertaining to Constitutional and Human Rights.
We urge South Africans from all communities and all walks of life to contact us with matters of public interest that will achieve broad legal change to systemic issues.
If you have an issue that affects you and your greater community, send an email to email@example.com.