Mpumalanga Advice Office
Tel: 031 771 1044
Zolta Buthelezi. Zolta Buthelezi has worked for the advice office since 2004.
2 292 sq. km
3 662 000
The office reaches the areas of Camperdown, Mpumalanga Township, Pinetown, Intshanga, Ntshongweni, Mpola, Cato Ridge, Sankontshe, Mophela, Njobokazi, Zwelibomvu, Ehlanzeni, Malangeni, Mlaba Village, KwaMoya, Emafutheni, Ezitendeni, eSivivaneni, eKwandeni, Zamani, Georgedale communities. Some of the areas served are rural and fall under the traditional leadership of Amakhosi and Izinduna.
Mpumalanga is a town of approximately 62,000 located 30km south-east of Pietermaritzburg. Infrastructure is poor, and for example the nearest hospitals are in Durban or Pietermaritzburg. The office (left) is located at the police station.
According to Statistics South Africa, the population of the local eThekwini Municipality in which Mpumalanga is located is 3.66 million. The municipality is a mixture of urban development and informal settlements, and many areas are characterized by poverty and lack of basic amenities. 30% of people are unemployed and youth unemployment is 39%. 60% of homes have piped water and 90% have electricity, while only 37% of people have a Matric certificate. 79% of people live in a formal dwelling. 5% of people are under 15, 70% are aged 15-64 and 5% are 65 and over.
In 2016 the office attended to 146 cases, with the most common being legal advice on documents and financial rights, followed by child abuse and domestic violence. It conducted mediations that successfully resolved 39 cases.
In 2016, 58% of clients aged 19-59 were unemployed and 42% were employed. 60% were female and 40% were male, 52% were aged 19-59, 27% were under 18 and 21% were over 60.
Interview with Zolta Buthelezi
How long have you worked for the advice office?
What led you to become a community-based paralegal?
I was a paralegal before working for CCJD.
What would you say are the biggest challenges facing people in your area?
They are domestic violence and unemployment.
Have you had a case when you relied on traditional customs?
There was a case of a man who had paid lobola for a woman who then refused to marry him, and the parents wouldn’t pay the money back. His problem wasn’t covered by any of the civil or criminal laws, so we had to refer to customary law, which stated that the man would only get lobola back when another man proposed to the same woman. This man would release the lobola back to the man. We gave him this advice.
Who is your role model?
My grannies are my role models. They care for their community and try to empower them. They don’t expect anything in return.
Are there any laws that would like to see changed?
The child support grant is a problem. Mothers leave the children with their grannies and take the money for themselves.
Can you describe one of the most satisfying cases you have dealt with?
There is a type of case: attorneys have issued illegal letters of demand to several clients asking for money as part of land claims. These were for thousands of rand, but they were illegal. I informed my clients that they didn’t have to pay or to go to meetings with the attorneys. I empowered them to ignore the demands and saved them thousands of rands.
Have you noticed any changes in attitudes among people in your time at Mpumalanga?
Yes, the men have changed their attitudes. They support their wives more. Some of them come and thank me for the work I have done for them explaining the law.
What advice would you give children growing up in Mpumalanga?
I would tell them to have a goal, to work hard, avoid early pregnancy, choose friends wisely, and don’t let your future slip through your hands.