Legal Aid gets tenth unqualified audit
Cape Town - Legal Aid SA (Lasa) achieved its 10th consecutive unqualified report and a sixth consecutive year of no matters of emphasis in the auditor general's report in 2010/11.
This indicated strong financial management, Lasa CEO Vidhu Vedalankar told reporters in Cape Town on Tuesday.
During the year, Lasa provided legal services in 421 365 new legal matters - 389 914 of them criminal and 31 451 civil cases, she said.
General legal advice was also provided to 243 693 clients.
The organisation, which had 64 justice centres and 64 satellite offices around the country, also expanded its footprint with the launch of its client call centre in November 2010.
This advice line helped 13 926 callers with first level legal advice in five official languages.
Children were helped in 28 115 legal matters. Of these, 25 586 were criminal matters and 2 529 civil.
Lasa spent 99% of its R1.2bn budget as at March 31, 2011, Vedalankar said.
Lasa spokesperson Mpho Phasha said the public-funded entity would continue to vigorously defend the rights enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that access to justice became a reality to South Africans.
"Through our civil work, we will continue to ensure that the poor can enjoy their socio-economic rights and have such rights protected by a court of law through sustainable legal aid schemes," Phasha said.
Lasa board chairperson, Labour Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, said the organisation would continue strengthening its leadership and investment in its people.
Lasa intended becoming the legal employer of choice for people committed to serving the poor and vulnerable and making the Constitution a living document for all South Africans.
It would continue to address its limited responsiveness in civil matters resulting from financial constraints.
Lasa recently established 13 civil units, and employed civil legal professionals at every justice centre, to increase access to civil legal aid, Mlambo said.