Jed da Silva (UCT) and Michael de la Hunt (Wits); two students from the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand; have developed a free app to provide guidance for students and all South Africans who may not be aware of their rights in numerous situations – from road blocks to protests.
LegalMate is a mobile platform that provides simple, easy to read legal information for a range of situations. It is not just a platform to share legal knowledge, but strives to maintain instant access to applicable and concise legal information for the relevant situation one might find them in.
On the company’s website the founders are quoted, “We encourage our users to be equipped with knowledge and confident of their rights when dealing with legal confrontations,” says Jed da Silva, Co-Founder and Michael de la Hunt, Co-Founder adds, “We aim to empower and protect South Africans by creating free access to basic legal information.”
The app creators have sourced current legislation, and gathered various viewpoints provided by groups like Right2Know regarding regulations that are unclear. Which means you can find details of your rights in instances such as road blocks, the issuing of speeding fines, police conducting searches on your car or on your person, and gain general information on how to report crimes, conduct yourself around police, and what can or cannot be done when you are arrested during a protest.
The support LegalMate provides comes at a time of increased civil action in South Africa that is two years of mass student protest and an increase in citizens protesting the current government. For many they will be better armed to fight for their civil liberties despite the fact that the app has a disclaimer that it is meant to serve as a general pool of information, and does not cater to specific, individual situations and therefore it does not constitute legal counsel.
Student protests in South Africa started in 2015 initially to demand the removal of relics of earlier times in a crusade dubbed “Rhodes Must Fall” from which they emerge victorious with the statue of British colonial Prime Minister, Cecil Rhodes who considered South Africa’s native blacks “in a state of barbarism” and “a subject race.” being removed and carted away. Fresh from that victory, and with the ill-timed announcement of a sharp spike of 12 percent in university fees, students in South Africa redirected their attention to not only stopping the price increase, but also to making college altogether free. The “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign gave way to “Fees Must Fall.”
This year citizen protesters marched in cities across South Africa including Cape Town, Durban, and the capital, Pretoria calling for the removal of President Jacob Zuma waving placards that read: “South Africa is not for sale” and “downgrade Zuma, not South Africa.” A different protest happened in Pretoria due to anger over a rise in violence against women and children in South Africa, including killings and sex attacks.
All these protesters would benefit from LegalMate on the streets and for the organizers off the streets which is why the apps website boldly declares “Legal Confidence Starts with Us”
The app can be downloaded on iOS and Android.