Free legal representation is available by the State through Legal Aid South Africa, to those persons who cannot afford to pay for their own legal representation. In terms of the Constitution of South Africa, any person who is charged with a crime has a right to a fair trial, as well the right to have legal representation.
If an accused person cannot afford legal representation, the State will provide free legal representation to him or her. Legal aid is not however only limited to criminal matters and includes civil matters as well. The funding of Legal Aid South Africa is provided through taxes paid for by the South African taxpayer. Legal Aid employs its own lawyers who provide the legal representation to those needing it.
The information below is drawn from website
. Any person who wishes to know more on this matter is encouraged to visit the website.
Source: Legal Aid South Africa.
If you are employed, you must earn less than R5,500.00 per month after tax has been taken off. Legal Aid will only give legal aid to households that earn less than R6,000.00 per month. Again, Legal Aid will only look at the amount that the household receives after tax has been taken off. If you receive any state grant or old age pension, you automatically qualify for legal aid. You do not have to take the Means Test. You will need to show us official documents that prove you receive a state grant or pension.
In criminal cases, children automatically qualify for legal aid and do not have to take the Means Test. If it is a civil case, the family of the child will need to take and pass the Means Test. Legal aid is available to anyone who lives in South Africa (not only South African citizens) if the case: is criminal, or involves children, or asylum seekers.
In civil cases legal aid is not available to non-citizens. If you qualify for legal aid, and Legal Aid have agreed to represent you, you will not have to pay for anything. In fact, Legal Aid South Africa lawyers may not ask or be paid any money when they assist you with your case.
Although you don't pay for legal aid, if you should win a civil case Legal Aid will deduct the money that the court grants to pay for costs and benefits, before Legal Aid pay the money owing to you. If you are refused legal aid but still feel you deserve it, then you have the right to appeal.
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