Osizweni Advice Office
Tel: 034 366 1425
Sibongile Masondo. Sibongile has worked at the advice office since 2002.
1855 sq. kilometres
Osizweni Advice Office reaches the areas of Osizweni Township, Inverness Farm, Nine Mile, Ubuhle Bomzinyathi, Dicks, Manzana, Lekkerwater, Grootgeluk, Mndozo, Jakkalspruit, Fairview, Blaawbosch, Ntendeka, Mbabane and Waterval.
The advice office is based at the police station in Osizweni, which is a township of approximately 80,000 people located 24 kilometers east of Newcastle. According to Statistics South Africa, the population of the Newcastle Local Municipality where Osizweni is situated is 389 100. The municipality is a mixture of urban development and informal settlements, and many areas are characterized by poverty and a lack of basic services. 37% of people are unemployed and youth unemployment stands at 49%. 32% of the population are under 15, 63% are between 15 and 64, and 5% are 65 and over. 87% of homes have electricity, 50% have piped water, and just one third of people have a Matric qualification. 91% of the people live in a formal dwelling. Some of the areas around Osizweni are rural and fall under the traditional leadership of Amakhosi and Izinduna.
The main economic sectors in the local municipality are manufacturing (27%), general government (17.6%), wholesale and retail trade (14%), business services (10.2%), finance and insurance (6.9%).
In 2016, the office dealt with 296 cases, with the most common being domestic violence and advice on obtaining financial rights and documents (each making up 38% of cases). The office conducted mediations that successfully resolved 57 cases, and helped 27 clients to get a protection order. It helped 14 people to obtain their pensions and other economic rights amounting to R 100,000.
Of clients aged 18-59, 28% were unemployed and 62% had jobs. 65% of clients were women and 20% were men, with 80% aged 18-59 and 20% over 60.
How long have you worked at the advice office?
What led you to become a community-based paralegal?
I love to work for the community.
What are the most common cases that you deal with?
They are domestic violence.
How do you try to deal with those cases?
For most of them we use mediation, and most mediations are successful. Sometimes we use protection orders, if the client wants to. We always give them the choice.
Is there a law that you would like to change?
I would limit child support grant to married couples and not give it to single mothers. This is because they use the grant for themselves and have more children just to get it.
What role do traditional laws play in your work?
Some people do want to use traditional methods like compensation, but we refer them to the traditional courts.
Have the attitudes and behaviour of people in Osizweni changed in the time you have been here?
Yes – more people come to the support centre for help and to report their cases now.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
It is transport, because sometimes we have to attend to cases immediately and can’t get there. I use combis (public taxis).
What advice would you give children growing up in Osizweni?
I would tell them to stick with their education so that you can be independent. Most abused people are dependent on the abuser.
Who is your role model?
My role model is my mother, because she is strong and raised us on our own.