Lack of funds threatens advice office

Mugidien Barnes is the co-ordinator of the Heideveld and District Advice Office.

The Heideveld and District Advice Office, which has been serving the area for 35 years, is facing the threat of closure if no funding comes through soon.

The organisation’s statistics show that during last year, they assisted close to 3 000 people with housing-related issues, municipal bills, maintenance and consumer matters.

This service, according to the office’s co-ordinator, Mugidien Barnes, is desperately needed in the community, as many cannot afford legal fees.

“We are a human and consumer rights organisation, and we have won many battles for our community in the 35 years of our existence.

“The office was opened in 1982 by Hajera Davids, who saw the needs of the people and had a vision. She and a group of like-minded people opened this office. Currently we are three volunteers. Caroline Cloete and I are Commissioners of Oaths and Ms Davids is the administrator. We also have eight board members. We do a lot of affidavits, and we do an oversight at the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). They have a service point in the area on a Monday. The three of us are passionate about what we do and the community depends heavily on the services we offer,” Mr Barnes said.

Currently, the advice office’s telephone line has already been suspended, as the bill ran into arrears. They also need to pay rent and utility bills. The office has been operating without funding for the past 14 months.

“A lot of people come here with documents that need to be emailed. We are not in a position to do that now, as we cannot access the internet because our telephone line has been suspended.

Mr Barnes added: “We have a link with Legal Aid SA in Athlone, and we do a lot of referrals to them. Some people are also referred to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Our statistics speak for itself. The funding is a big necessity. Our community relies on this service. Without funding the service would be in a poor state. Fortunately, we have a good landlord, who said he would ask his friends for assistance for us. He likes what we are doing and we have a good relationship.

“If we are forced to close these doors, people will have nowhere to go to for help.”

Mr Barnes appealed to individuals and businesses in and around Heideveld to assist with funding or any donations in kind.

If you can assist, contact Mr Barnes at 062 067 2074 or Ms Davids at 079 825 5095 or email hajera.davids@gmail.com