Bulwer Advice Office

Tel: 039 832 0194



Map of Bulwer

About

Staff:

Nokuthula Mchunu and Patricia Maphanga. Nokuthula has worked for the advice office since 1998, and Patricia joined in 2000.

Local Municipality:

Ingwe-Kwa Sani  (the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal)

Municipal Population:

119 640

Municipal Area: 

3602 square kilometres

Areas served:

The advice office reaches Inkelabantwana, Inkumba, Ntabamakhaba, Charles, Ntokaneni, Mbhulelweni, Seeford, Nkwezela, Nonguqa, Deepdale, St. Catherine, Kwabhidla, Bethlehem, Siphahleni, Sopholile, Mnyamana, Sizanenjana, Kilmun, Emangwaneni, Oqaqeni, Creighton, Centocow, Emakhuzeni, Eficedeni and Sandanezwe.

Description:

Bulwer Advice Office

Bulwer Advice Office

Bulwer is a small town of approximately 750 people, located 100 km west of Pietermaritzburg.  The municipality is rural and the main industry is farming. There are several tribal authorities in the area and traditional leaders are influential. The advice office itself is located inside the local police station.

According to Statistics South Africa, the population of the local municipality* is 119 640, and 39% of people are unemployed, with youth unemployment standing at 49%. The advice office database suggests that the actual unemployment rate is higher: in 2016 it recorded that 65% of clients aged 19-59 at the advice office were unemployed and only 35% were employed.

Many areas are characterized by poverty and lack of basic services. For example, just 30% of homes are formal dwellings, 50% of homes have electricity and only 12% have piped water, while 18% of people have a Matric qualification, making it more difficult to find skilled work. 40% of people are less than 15 years old, 55% are between 15 and 64, and just 5% are over 64. The population density is 51 people per square kilometer, and the overwhelming majority are Black.

*The Ingwe/Kwa Sani Local Municipality was established on 3rd August 2016 by the amalgamation of Ingwe and Kwa Sani local municipalities. The employment, age and infrastructure statistics used here are from the 2011 census for the old Ingwe Municipality, which is the area where the advice office operates.

In 2016 the advice office dealt with 242 cases, the 60% involving legal advice on obtaining documents and financial rights, and a fifth concerning domestic violence. It successfully resolved 42 cases through mediation. Staff helped clients to obtain R 65 000 in pensions, grants and retirement funds, benefitting at least 15 people.

74% of clients in 2016 were female and 26% were male. 73% were aged 19-59, 18% were over 60, and 9% were children.

Interview with Nokuthula Mchunu

Nokuthula Mchunu

Bulwer Paralegal Nokuthula Mchunu

 

How long have you worked for the advice office?

Since 1998.

What led you to work for the advice office?

I heard about CCJD when I was at the court and I have always wanted to help my community.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing people in your area?

It is domestic violence.

Have you had a case when you relied on traditional customs?

Some clients used to want to pay or accept compensation for a crime, but we told them we don’t use those laws. They don’t try to use traditional methods anymore because they now know it’s against the law.

Would you say people’s attitudes and behaviour are starting to change?

People have more respect for the office now. At first they thought I was trying to do things for my own sake. Now they realise that it’s about the law, it’s not about me.

Who is your role model?

There are two broadcasters on Ukhozi FM that I look up to. One of them is called Buthelezi. They give people advice and encourage them to face their problems and to deal with them positively.

Are there any laws that you would like to see changed?

Yes, in cases of inheritance, where an unmarried person dies without a will. The parents should inherit, not only the children, because they don’t use the money properly – for example they don’t use it for the parents’ funeral.

Can you describe one or two of the most satisfying cases you have dealt with?

Patricia and Nokuthula

There was a couple that were separated but not divorced. The husband’s family had taken back the lobola. When the husband died the wife didn’t know whether she could claim the husband’s work pension. I advised the wife that she could and helped her get it, and also helped arrange the sale of the husband’s house so that she received the money.

What are the main challenges you have in your work?

Transport is difficult because sometimes we can’t get to appointments on time. The police help us but they can’t always take us.     

What advice would you give children growing up in Bulwer?

I would tell them not to get pregnant and to be careful of HIV/AIDS

Interview with Patricia Maphanga

Patricia MaphangaHow long have you worked for the advice office?

Since 2000

What led you to work for the advice office?

I have always been interested in helping my community and dealing with local problems.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing people in your area?

It is domestic violence.

Have you had a case when you relied on traditional customs?

No, some clients want to pay or accept compensation for a crime, but we tell them that this is against the law.

Would you say people’s attitudes and behaviour are starting to change?

Some men have changed their attitudes – they treat women with more respect now.

Who is your role model?

Clients at Bulwer Support Centre

Protection Order clients wait in Bulwer Advice Office

Winnie Kubayi, our boss. She has taught us how to live with people, to run our own work, to be leaders and not to rely on others.

Are there any laws that would like to see changed?

In cases of underage sex, at the moment it is only the boy who gets punished. The girl should be too, because at the moment girls think they can go to their boyfriends and do whatever they like without consequences.

Can you describe one or two of the most satisfying cases you have dealt with?

There was a custody dispute over a child where two men claimed they were the father. There was the man living with the mother, who had appointed him as the father, and there was another man. I arranged for a paternity test and it showed that this other man was actually the biological father. I went to the court but they were not interested in helping us. I took the case to the tribal court and was called as a witness and the matter was settled – the biological father was given custody of the child.

Patricia Maphanga and client

Patricia Maphanga attends to a client

 

What advice would you give children growing up in Bulwer?

I would tell them not to rush and try to have things too early, like boyfriends and getting pregnant. I would advise them not to drop out in Standard 10, and to be careful of HIV/AIDS.