In South Africa, extensive violence and injustices against People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) occur on a daily basis. Moreover, access to a fair trial or legal support is rare for this target group. Mainline connected their South African partners to PKNI from Indonesia. This network of PWUD has organised paralegal support via their peer networks.
When someone is arrested for drug charges, PKNI makes sure they get the information and legal support they need. They often manage to avoid prison sentences. As part of Mainlines’ south-south exchange programme, PKNI provided paralegal training for the PWUD community in South Africa.
The training took place in December 2016. Participants were from the PWUD community in South Africa who have united in the network of Drug Users of Cape Town (DUCT) and the Drug Users of Gauteng (DUG).
During the training, knowledge and experience were transferred by the facilitators from Indonesia. Their expertise was combined with the expertise of a South African lawyer. This ensured a good connection with the local legal context.
Participants of the training learned to establish relevant action plans to develop a paralegal programme and to defend the rights of their community. The pioneering programme was very much appreciated by all the participants.
Quotes from the participants
'The need (for legal support) is not measurable: it is too big at this time. The guys were very excited to get to know what they can be taught to help them handle and be prepared when the police and metro police and the CPF (community policing forum) arrest them and infringe on their human rights.'
'We related to Yohan and Andrashay: they are living the life and were experienced in what we go through on a daily basis. So, day 3 was informative and exiting. And I hope we can build on what we started here.'
'The guys from Indonesia were inspirational.'
'We want to know the loopholes in the system; we want to use them to our advantage so we don't sit in jail cells for nonsense.'
'We want to speak the specialised language; we want to sound like a proper paralegal. We want to tell the cop according to the Law of 1998 Section 51 on Legal Substances you cannot arrest me for this.'