Rising living cost compels amendment

2019-05-01 06:01

Legal Aid South Africa (Lasa) has amended its means test, a process that determines if a person qualifies for legal pro bono (free) assistance by the service. Amendment was done on 1 April.

Mfanafuthi Shabangu, Lasa’s national spokes­person, said the means test was amended to enable more people to qualify for legal aid assistance.

Previously, Lasa assisted people who earned up to R5 500 per month, after tax. If the applicant lives in a household, the household had to earn less than R6 000 per month, after tax. If the applicant does not own immovable pro­p­erty, their movable assets could not be worth more than R100 000.

An applicant who is also a member of a household and who owns immovable property and immo­vable and movable assets to the value of R500 000, could apply for legal aid.

“The amendment of the means test was deemed necessary, due to the impact of inflation and the rising cost of living,” Shabangu said.

The amended means test has been changed as follows:

  • If you are applying for legal aid, your monthly earnings, after tax, must not exceed R7 400.
  • If you are a member of a household and are applying for legal aid, the household’s monthly income, after tax, must not exceed R8 000.
  • If you do not own immovable property, the value of your movable assets must not exceed R128 000.
  • If you are a member of a household and own immovable property and immovable and movable assets, the value of these assets must not exceed R640 000.

Lasa provides indepen­dent, accessible and legal aid services in criminal and civil legal matters.

As a public entity, it receives its funding from Parliament, and as such, must ensure that the people who apply for legal aid do indeed qualify for this service.

This is ascertained through a means test, which assesses a person’s income and the assets that they own.

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