As part of our Refugee project with Misereor, our paralegal in the Johannesburg office, Zama Mbatha, and the legal intern in the Refugee department, Kgomotso Leshabane, conducted a three-day workshop in Musina in collaboration with our local partner, the Messina Legal Advice Office (MLAO). The workshop was aimed at informing community members about the rights of stateless people in South Africa.
Our team also sought to build capacity for community advice office (CAO) paralegals by giving report writing training during their visit.
The Refugee project seeks to ensure that undocumented migrants and refugees, especially minors at the border of Zimbabwe (Polokwane), have access to legal representation. ProBono.Org attempts to address the issue of lack of representation for children in court cases by securing pro bono legal interventions and representation. The nonimplementation of the constitutional rights of undocumented minors (born to SA citizens or foreign nationals) will be addressed through impact litigation to highlight the need to amend policies that do not serve the needs of minors and migrants.
Some of the topics covered in the three-day workshop included What is Statelessness and the Right to Nationality; Borders and
Statelessness; Childhood and Statelessness. On day three of the workshop, we had a discussion on the topic of Nationality evidence and Migration and Nationality. In addition, we had an insightful dialogue on solutions for stateless persons, particularly on the determination of statelessness as well as nationality procedures. The community members were particularly interested in engaging on case studies and discussing the causes and consequences of statelessness within the community. They shared their views and challenges while also engaging the speakers on a few ideas for possible solutions to statelessness and ways in which the issue of statelessness in South Africa could be eradicated.
We had an estimated 150 people in attendance including over 20 different organisations as well as the Grade 10 scholars from one of the local schools in the area. The success of the workshop is thanks to the dedication of the legal practitioners who volunteered to
collaborate with ProBono.Org in educating and empowering members of the community of Musina on Statelessness in South Africa. Special thanks to Elgene Roos of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr; Thandeka Chauke of Lawyers for Human Rights; Sarah Goldman of Lawtons Africa; and Stanley Tiffah Zauya, a paralegal with the MLAO.