Pupils get inside view of justice system

Legal Aid South Africa lawyer Ronelle Arendse and Tiffany Adams.

Pupils from Rosendaal High School spent a day at court, where they got a feel for what a day is like in the life of a legal-aid lawyer.

As part of the Take A Girl Child to Work campaign, the 15 pupils visited Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday May 25. They were divided into groups of three, accompanying lawyers from Legal Aid South Africa into court.

One group was paired with lawyer Robyn Diedericks and sat in Court C with magistrate Clive Linden presiding.

During tea time, the girls were given a tour of the holding cells and met Mr Linden and other magistrates.

The pupils also met with officials from the various departments within the court, from social workers to parole officers.

For Grade 12 pupil Courtney Junies, from Delft, it was an eye-opening experience – one that squashed some preconceived notions of what the court would be like.

“I thought it would be very chaotic and scary. I pictured gangsters walking around but the place is well managed,” she said.

Courtney had hoped the visit would teach her more about the role of social workers at court; she said it had not only done that but also shown her the inner workings of the judicial system.

During the feedback session, lawyer Ronelle Arendse encouraged the girls to consider a career in the legal field as it had far too few women.

“We come from the communities that you come from; I come from Elsies River. It’s not about where you live,” she said.

Ms Arendse said it should be the norm for a woman to be named a judge and not some big news story.

Grade 12 pupil Tiffany Adams said the day had been an “amazing experience” and one she wouldn’t forget soon.

Take a Girl Child to Work Day is a project that started in 1993 with the Foundation for Women in America when it launched Take Your Daughters to Work Day. The project encouraged girls to widen their career options.