Thulamela Chambers was established with a foundational aim of fostering the ethos of pro bono work by its members and promoting access to justice through the provision of legal services.  Many of our members have been and are currently involved in pro bono and public interest matters.  Learn more about the work of our members here.

The Pro Bono and Public Interest Committee is mandated to encourage and facilitate the provision of pro bono and public interest work within Thulamela.

The members of our Group recognise that by undertaking pro bono work and assisting public interest organisations, advocates can meaningfully contribute to social transformation and access to justice and legal services in South Africa.

The Committee also sees the public interest sector as an important area for the development of relationships and transfer of skills between experienced attorneys and counsel, and more junior members of the Bar.

To this end, the Committee strives to develop relationships with pro bono and public interest organisations and departments in order to facilitate our members’ ability to assist them in their important work.  You can read about our current projects here.

The members of the Committee for 2016 are: Frances Hobden, Philip Mokoena SC, Adila Hassim, Hasina Cassim, Chris McConnachie, and Musatondwa Musandiwa.

The Thulamela Public Interest and Pro Bono Committee’s primary objectives are to:

  • Facilitate and encourage Thulamela members in obtaining and effectively carrying out pro bono and public interest law work.
  • Increase general awareness about Thulamela’s public interest focus and the public interest and pro bono work conducted by our members as a tool for:
    • Attracting new members who subscribe to these ideals;
    • Developing a strong brand for the Group;
    • Showcasing and developing the talents of our members.
  • Work towards transformation of the public interest legal sector and the legal profession by ensuring the fair distribution of quality and quantity of public interest and pro bono work within our Group.
  • Establish institutional links with educational institutions, public interest organisations and pro bono departments of law firms on matters of mutual professional interest and to facilitate members’ ability to assist these organisations with their work.

These objectives are informed by the Thulamela Mission Statement and the foundational resolutions of Thulamela Constitution.  The Thulamela Constitution also requires our members to undertake pro bono work in addition to his or her obligation to undertake and perform pro bono work in terms of the Rules of the Bar Council.

The Thulamela PBPIC is involved in the following projects.

Lawyers for Human Rights

The Thulamela PBPIC has been working with Lawyers for Human Rights Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme since October 2016 to establish a group of willing and able junior counsel to assist with matters in the Refugee Appeal Board and High Court.

As a first step in this project, the PBPIC together with Lawyers for Human Rights (and more recently, the JSA HRC) have run a series of workshops to equip junior members from our Group and the Johannesburg Bar with the skills to take on refugee and immigration matters.  The workshops provide a general introduction to refugee law, together with practical advice on representing asylum-seekers in Refugee Appeal Board hearings and review applications in the High Court.

  • 30 September 2016 at Thulamela Chambers.
  • 2 June 2017 at Thulamela Chambers.
  • 3 November 2017 at Pijte Chambers.
  • 10 November 2017 at Thulamela Chambers.

The PBPIC has compiled a contact list of approximately 45 advocates who have received training and would like to take on pro bono refugee law work from Lawyers for Human Rights and other immigration attorneys.

A number of Thulamela juniors have now represented asylum-seekers in the Refugee Appeal Board and in High Court review applications.

Casual Workers’ Advice Office

The PBPIC has agreed to act as the first contact point for the Casual Workers’ Advice Office when they require counsel for employment matters both at CCMA level and in the High Court.

On 25 November 2016, the PBPIC hosted a workshop run by Suzanna Harvey of the Cape Bar, along with Ighsaan Schroeder the co-ordinator of the Casual Workers Advice Office covering the amendments to section 198 of the LRA and the issues arising in the review applications and the CCMA cases.

The JSA Human Rights Committee

The Johannesburg Society of Advocates Human Rights Committee decided to focus on migrant and refugee rights as the Committee’s primary human rights issue for 2017.

The PBPIC made contact with the JSA HRC to inform it of Thulamela’s ongoing collaboration with Lawyers for Human Rights on refugee and migrant issues, and Chris McConnachie has been co-opted to serve on the JSA HRC with the view to facilitating liaison between the two committees in respect of refugee and immigration rights.

Pro bono and public interest work within our group

The PBPIC congratulates Thulamela members, Musatondwa Musandiwa, Carol Steinberg and Hephzibah Rajah, who were recognised at the ProBono.Org awards on 7 September 2017.  These members were amongst the Johannesburg counsel who achieved the highest number of pro bono hours last year.

Thulamela won the Advocate Award for the Group achieving the highest cumulative number of pro bono hours last year.

The professional rules and ethics of the Johannesburg Bar prevent the Thulamela PBPIC from directly assisting members of the public seeking pro bono assistance.

Please contact one of the organisations listed below if you require legal advice or assistance in public interest matter or on a pro bono basis:

1st Floor West Wing, Women’s Jail, Constitution Hill
1 Kotze Street, Braamfontein,

Tel:  (011) 339 6080

Johannesburg office
4th Floor Heerengracht Building,
87 De Korte Street corner Melle Street,

Tel: (011) 339 1960

Johannesburg office
15th and 16th Floor, Bram Fischer Towers,
20 Albert Street, Marshalltown,

Tel: (011) 836 9831