Impendle Advice Office
Tel: 033 996 0479
Zodwa Maramane. Zodwa has worked for the advice office since 1999.
1528 square kilometres
The office reaches the communities of Impendle ward, Stoffelton, Loteni, Gomane, Nhlabamkhosi, Novuka, Ntokozweni, Khetha, Mqabulagudu, Lindokuhle, Phindangeni, Similo, Sikesuthi, Mackson, eMadiphini, Brington, Ukukhanya, Umgodi, Ntshiyabantu, Nguga, Inzinga and Makhuzeni.
The village of Impendle is located 40 km west of Howick in a predominantly rural area which is characterized by unemployment, poverty and poor infrastructure. Impendle Advice Office is located at the police station.
According to the most recent census, the population of the municipality is 33 330. The unemployment rate is 45%, with youth unemployment 56%. These are relatively high rates compared to the other areas where CCJD operates. The advice office’s own database records that in 2016 69% of clients aged 19-59 were unemployed and only 31% were working. Certainly the great majority of clients of working age who approach the advice office for help are without work, and many depend on financial entitlements such as grants, pensions and provident funds for a basic income.
According to the most recent census, 38% of the municipal population are under 15 years of age, 56% are aged 15-64 and just 6% are 65 and over, while 57% of households are headed by women. Just 44% of homes are described as formal dwellings, and 16% of homes have piped water and 84% have electricity, while 22% of people have a Matric certificate. There are several tribal authorities in the area, and they wield great influence in people’s everyday lives.
In 2016 the office dealt with 126 cases, with the most common being domestic violence, followed by child abuse and labour issues. It successfully resolved 20 cases through mediations and helped three women to obtain protection orders. The office obtained maintenance and grants for at least 25 people.
71% of clients were female and 29% were male, while 71% were aged 19-59 and 22% were over 60, with 7% children.
Interview with Zodwa Maramane
How long have you worked for the advice office?
What led you to become work at the advice office’?
I wanted to help people and work with people. I thought of becoming a teacher before I heard of this job.
What would you say is the biggest challenge facing people in your area?
The main problems are labour issues such as getting unemployment benefits, and domestic violence.
Do you think traditional culture plays a positive role in the work that you do or not?
Sometimes clients want to pay compensation for rape for example, and I tell them that this is not the law. Compensation only helps the victims’ family, who get the money. It does not help the victim.
Have you had a case when you relied on traditional customs?
In one case, some boys hurt a girl at school, but not seriously. Her family complained, and we resolved the case by telling the boys’ family pay a goat in compensation. I used customary law because the case was not serious. I mean the boys were only fooling around, they didn’t assault or sexually abuse her.
Would you say people’s lives have changed in the time you have been here?
People’s lives are improving – they have more money now to build better houses, and their children are going on to study after high school
Who is your role model?
There is a young lady I work with, a social worker. She always does her work well, and she has never refused to help me with a case.
Are there any laws that would like to see changed?
I deal with a lot of cases to do with claiming unemployment benefit, and the problem people have is that if people don’t claim it within 3 to 6 months, they can’t get it at all. I feel the Department of Labour should change this and work more closely with people claiming unemployment benefit.
Can you describe one or two of the most satisfying cases you have dealt with?
There was a case eight years ago involving a rape of a child by a 72 year-old man who was a rich and respected figure in the community. I remember it because his mother came to me on the night it happened, because she was worried that her daughter had not come home. She had let her go with the man to help him do his shopping, because she trusted him.
We heard a child crying that evening and it was hers. We caught the man that night. He admitted everything and was sentenced to jail within three days of being caught, which is very unusual. I helped the girl to give statements to the police and this helped convict the man. He is still in jail, his sentence is eighteen years. He offered to pay compensation but I told him that this was not the law.
After the case, I was unpopular and many people said to me, “How could you send him to prison – an old, rich respected man, who offered to pay compensation?” I told them that it was my job to enforce the law. The community learned a lesson from this case that anyone can go to jail for rape. Also a lot of people came up to me and said well done. I counselled the child after the case and she is doing well now, she is in matric.
If you could change anything about your work and the people you deal with, what would it be and why?
Transport is a problem because the police can’t always help and the taxis take a long time to fill up and leave.