Jed: “LegalMate falls within the scope of social entrepreneurship in South Africa as it provides free legal information to the the public to empower civil society. The app combats corruption by educating people of their rights within a post-colonial developing country. The app covers issues of police interactions, protests, reporting crimes and other categories. The app has had 4000 downloads within 2 weeks of it being launched and has been featured on BBC Africa, This is Africa and Times Live.”
LegalMate is a free mobile app that focuses on empowering and protecting South Africans by creating free access basic legal information.
What problem are you trying to solve?
The South African Constitution states in section 9, subsection 1 that ”everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law”. We realised that this ideal is not being achieved due to South Africans not having access to their rights when encountering legal problems. South Africa is a country that faces extreme inequality. The wealthy are well-educated and have access to legal counsel and the poor do not as they are marginalised. Corruption in developing countries is often a problem in the police force. Vulnerable people are usually taken advantage of as their rights are been violated without their knowledge. This is a problem for the South African legal system that needs to be solved in order to uphold the constitution and protect South Africas.
What is your solution to this problem?
By giving people free access to legal information, LegalMate moves closer to giving people equal right to protection and equal benefit of the law. It does this by being accessible. The categories of legal information are simplified, approachable and easy to read. Data prices are also extremely high in South Africa, which disables people from accessing information. The app solves this problem by being free to download, at less than 10 megabytes, and uses no data to function. LegalMate encourages police to be accountable for their actions with regards to procedure and treatment of individuals. They will not be able to take advantage of the public’s lack of knowledge when it comes to their rights. This will create a better functioning legal system as valid cases will not be thrown due to procedural issues and South Africans will benefit from understanding their rights.
Why are you going to win The Spindle Award for Best Innovation?
This app is an important innovation for South African civil society as it helps people by empowering and protecting them. The app also encourages the improvement of the South African legal system, as it holds police accountable for following the right procedures and helps South Africans benefit from the law. This innovation is free, easy to use and a powerful tool to fight corruption in a developing country.