LRF explains the law for those in need

Following the death of her husband in 2007, Thokozani Moyo was left with literally nothing after his relatives took away all the family’s property, including livestock.

Thokozani Moyo: it was a very painful experience.
Thokozani Moyo: it was a very painful experience.

“My husband’s relatives took everything which he and I had worked for. My crime was that I did not have a child with him. I was only left with a few pots and plates. It was a very painful experience,” said Moyo.

After spirited efforts to secure a fair share of her late husband’s estate, which included cattle, goats, and farming implements, failed, a local school teacher referred her to the Legal Resources Foundation Trust. This charitable NGO provides free legal services to marginalised people, especially women and children.

The organisation helped her get back her property. “I am really grateful. If the foundation had not intervened I would have been destitute by now. I have started a new life and I am moving on,” said Moyo, who is one of scores of people who have benefited from LRFT’s free legal services since the organisation’s inception in 1984.

“Our focus is mainly the provision of legal services and legal education to the poor and marginalized people. LRFT bridges the gap between the law and the poor,” said Victor Ruombwa, LRFT Director for Bulawayo.

The trust runs five legal assistance centres throughout the country, offering free legal services and providing training to community leaders and producing legal reference and educational materials.

The organisation also works closely with authorities and institutions responsible for justice delivery to strengthen the justice system, identify and remove loopholes and train and equip officials responsible for the administration and delivery of justice.

Ruombwa said his organisation also assists children. “We also engage in test cases litigation and aggressively pursue lobbying, advocacy and publicity campaigns. We raise awareness of human rights and promote observance of the rule of the law,” he added.

“Justice procedures and laws are very complex. A lot of people fail to take their matters to court due to ignorance. The most common cases concern family and inheritance laws.”

In some instances, LRFT has also challenged and the verdicts of village headmen as well as the decisions of the courts. Gconiwe Sibanda from Filabusi was assisted by LRFT to draft court papers to reclaim her matrimonial property which was illegally shared at a chief’s court.

Sobayini Nkomo said the LRFT campaign material assisted her to know the protocol of reporting a rape case. “I appreciate the education work of LRFT. Through the information acquired, I managed to report the rape case of my 14-year-old-daughter who was raped by a 55-year-old man. He was sentenced to four years in prison,” said Nkomo.

Linson Ndlovu from Mtedzi in Mberengwa was assisted in recovering lobola from his son-in-law. The organisation has also assisted a Binga man Short Muomba to acquire a birth certificate and national identity card.

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