• Parents Obtain Son's Provident Fund with CCJ's Help

    In February 2012, CCJ helped the parents of a deceased mine worker to claim their son's provident fund, amounting to R84,000.

    The parents first approached Bulwer Support Centre in May 2011, after their son had died from lung disease contracted while working in the mines. They knew that they were entitled to their son’s provident fund, and asked coordinator Patricia Maphanga for help in claiming it. Patricia made sure that they had all the documents needed, such as their son’s death certificate and an affidavit stating that they are the parents, and she sent these with a letter to the Metal Industries Benefit Fund. In February 2012 the fund paid the mother and father (pictured right, with Patricia) R42,000 each. 

  • Foster Care Grant Reinstated with CCJ’s Help

    In November 2011 CCJ helped a foster parent to claim a grant of R28,000 which had been withheld for three years. 

    The case was referred to Fisani Ngcobo of Plessislaer Support Centre (right) in August 2011 by a local ward councillor. Grants for two children had been cancelled by the Department of Social Development in 2008 after a social worker complained that their foster parent, a family friend, was abusing the grant by using most of the money for herself. The oldest foster child then contacted her ward councillor, who referred the case to Fisani. 

    Fisani contacted the Social Development office in charge of court orders, and personally visited the official in order to explain the case and ask that the oldest child, now 21, receive the grant as the foster parent. As a result, in November 2011 the grant was reinstated, and a backlog of R28,480 was also paid to her for one of her siblings. Fisani is still working on claiming the backlog for the second child.


  • CCJ Helps Homeless Twins Apply for RDP House

    In August 2011 Glencoe Coordinator Sibongile Mchunu (right) helped two homeless sisters to apply for a government (RDP)Coordinator Sibongile Mchunu house. The women, who are twins, have no living relatives and have been without a home since 2005. They currently live in an old railway building, where the doors cannot be locked and there is no electricity. One of them was raped recently and they have had their possessions, including furniture, stolen over the years. The women are unwilling to enter a shelter as this would mean separating from the several dogs they keep for protection.

    In July the women visited Glencoe Support Centre in tears after some residents had thrown stones at them. With the women’s permission, Sibongile published their story in a local newspaper in order to trace the culprits. She immediately received a call from a member of the KZN parliament, who asked how he could help. Sibongile replied that a new home would be the best solution, and on 25th August an official from The Department of Human Settlement visited. After an interview with Sibongile she promised that the sisters would receive a house, and they are currently waiting for it to be built. 

    The case shows how CCJ is able to bring people into contact with relevant service providers, and by doing so forms a bridge between the needy and their rights.

  • CCJ Helps Client Obtain Child Maintenance

    In June 2011 a 33 year old woman visited Plessislaer Support Centre to enquire about a maintenance order that she had been receiving from the father of her five year old child. The order, for R350 a month, had been approved by the maintenance court in 2010. After a few months, the amount increased to R1000 for no obvious reason. The mother received the money until June this year, when the court stopped paying her and told her that she owed R4000 to the court and should pay this back before receiving any more money.

    Paralegal Fisani Ngcobo (right) asked the client to get a written statement from the court explaining why money was owed. The court replied that a mistake had been made, no money was owed, and the woman should reapply for the maintenance order. She did this, requesting R500 a month for her child. When no payment was received by September, Fisani visited the court in Pietermaritzburg and spoke to the head of the family law section, who promised to investigate. Later that month, the mother began to receive the R500 maintenance, including the arrears for June, July and August.

    The woman, who is HIV positive and has difficulty working owing to ill health, depends financially on this maintenance payment. Fisani also wrote to a doctor asking him to help the client apply for a disability grant. 

  • CCJ Intervention Leads to Maintenance Order: Father Obliged to Pay

    In June 2011 CCJ helped a mother to obtain child support from the father of her child. A client visited coordinator Theresa Thusi (right) in early 2010 to ask for advice: the father of her children was not contributing to the maintenance of her two five year olds. She had been to court three times to speak to the maintenance officer and he had not been able to help.

    Theresa went to speak to the maintenance officer, who said he was unable to assist because he could not trace the father. Soon afterwards, at a function for the provincial legislature, Theresa met members of the KwaZulu-Natal Commission for Gender Equality and asked for help. They asked her to send the documents for the case and contacted the Maintenance Office in Durban. The resulting pressure led the court in Pietermaritzburg in June 2011 to issue a garnishee order against the father - this is a court order that allows the debtor's property, in this case his work earnings, to be appropriated. According to this, the father is now obliged to pay R1100 a month for the two children.

    The case illustrates how CCJ is an integral part of a network of service providers, and how these different agencies are able to complement one another.
  • CCJ Works with Government to Alleviate Poverty

    Food vouchersIn April 2011 social workers contacted Mpophomeni coordinator Lucky Mkhize to ask her advice on which community members deserve food vouchers from the Department of Social Development. Lucky accompanied the social workers to visit five families. Three were then recommended as deserving candidates (the other two, while without unemployment, already received a measure of welfare assistance). In June, one family of nine received R1000, another family of five received R2100, and a third family will receive a voucher soon.  Two of the beneficiaries (right) visited Lucky on June 15th to receive their vouchers.

    CCJ paralegals often work with partners such as social workers, and their knowledge of their community is useful when identifying and helping the most needy. 

  • R66 000 in Death Benefits with CCJ's Help

    On 16th February 2011 Bergville coordinator Fisani Ngcobo (right) received good news about two of her clients. In October last year they had approached her about their deceased mother’s provident fund that they were having difficulty accessing. Their mother had been contributing to the fund before she died in 2004, but the fund had not made payments to her two daughters, as they were entitled. Having dealt with the mother’s company but been unable to claim the death benefits, the two daughters approached Fisani for help.

    She gathered the documents that they needed, such as birth certificates, bank details and affidavits stating their ages, and in December of last year reapplied for the money to be released. She followed up the application in January, and in mid-February heard from her happy clients that they had each received R33 000 from their mother’s fund.

    The case illustrates a common problem: many people are unable to obtain payments that they are entitled to, owing to their lack of knowledge of what is required and inefficiency from some service providers. Clients often approach CCJ for help as a last resort. About one third of CCJ’s cases concern facilitating these kinds of payments, such as pensions, grants and death benefits.

  • Bulwer Coordinators Start Children's Care Centre

    Patricia and Nokuthula

    Bulwer coordinators Patricia Maphanga and Nokuthula Mchunu (right) recently started a care centre for children. They look after those whose parents have either abused them, or are unable to care for them owing to illness, unemployment or death. Two local businessmen help to pay for groceries, and the children, who range in age from 1, 3 and 5 to 14 and 17. They live with Patricia in her home, alongside her own four children, and she uses money from her own salary to support them.

    The project started in September 2009 when children approached the centre complaining about abuse at home. Patricia received permission from social workers to take care of them, and several parents were grateful for the help. Patricia has difficulty getting government support, because the children do not have ID documents and the parents need to apply on their behalf, but themselves lack IDs. When asked in December 2010 how long she thought she would care for them, Patricia said, “Until they are grown up, because before then there is no end to their need.”

  • Disabled Woman Left at Home: CCJ Intervenes

    Coordinator Fisani Ngcobo

    In November 2010, police notified Bergville coordinator Fisani Ngcobo (right) about a 43 year old woman living with a disability who has difficulty looking after herself. She is unable to walk, and is alone at home during the day while her five children attend school. The police had found the woman by chance when visiting the house to investigate a rape case involving one of her relatives.

    Fisani visited the house and found that the children do not prepare food for the woman properly before they go to school, nor do they wash her. She is left alone during the day on her bed, and the linen is dirty. A man who claims to be her husband lives in a separate part of the house with his girlfriend, and does not help.

    Fisani contacted the local hospital and requested a wheelchair, and asked for a physiotherapist to visit the client. The hospital has yet to supply a chair, saying it first needs to examine her, which it has not yet done. The physio has visited once. Fisani contacted the local social worker, who has brought two food parcels and is helping the woman apply for child support grants and for grant-in-aid, which is paid to a carer to look after a disabled person.

    In the meantime, the woman has cheered up greatly, and Fisani regularly visits her and checks on the applications for the wheelchair and grants. The case illustrates that part of CCJ’s work involves addressing poverty and disability, and how CCJ often works in partnership with the police and social workers.

  • CCJ Coordinator Adopts Abandoned Baby

    In 2010 Mpophomeni coordinator Lucky Mkhize adopted an abandoned child. At the end of 2009 a Howick resident woke to find a baby abandoned in his yard. The child, a two week old girl, was wet and cold from the rainy night. He bought milMbalik and called the Mpophomeni police, who took the baby to the hospital, where it was placed in an incubator. The hospital contacted Lucky, and she reported the matter to a social worker.

    The social worker was absent and asked Lucky to take care of the child until the following Monday, and she agreed to take it home with her. When the social worker finally returned at the end of the next week, Lucky, who already has a grown son, had become attached to the child and decided that she wanted to keep her. She applied to the court and filled out the paperwork, and after a financial assessment and a visit to her home by social workers, was appointed the child’s legal guardian.

    Lucky applied for and now receives the foster care grant, and her mother, who lives nearby with the daughter of Lucky’s niece, takes care of the child during the day. Lucky named her Mbali, which means flower in Zulu, because when she was found there were flowers around her in the yard. Mbali (right) is now a year old and is a healthy and happy baby.

  • CCJ Coordinator Starts Wheelchair Project in Bergville

    Coordinator Sindi Mkhwanazi

    In October 2010 coordinator Sindi Mkhwanazi (right) started a wheelchair project in BeBergville eventrgville. She noticed that many community members of all ages were unable to walk, and for example that pensioners coming to collect their pensions were being carried or transported in wheelbarrows.

    She contacted fellow coordinator Sibongile Mchunu to ask for advice, and Sibongile put her in touch with the charity Operation Jumpstart. After Sindi explained the situation for the disabled in Bergville, they delivered twenty-eight wheelchairs, which Sindi handed over on a special day (left) held at a sports ground outside Bergville that she organised on 7th October, on which she also invited Home Affairs to come to Bergville to process ID applications. The municipality donated blankets to go with the wheelchairs, while police helped to hand them out.

  • CCJ in Schools Initiative after Gang Murders in Mpophomeni

    In October 2010 two men were stabbed and killed in Mpophomeni, Howick, in a dispute between the 26 and 28 gangs. Mpophomeni coordinator Lucky Mkhize (right) heard about the case and decided to visit eight local schools and speak to children about the problems of gangsterism. Coordinator Lucky Mkhize

    Because gang members have tattoos, Lucky spoke to the children about the risk of being identified as a gangster by tattoos that learners often get to show off with, without knowing their full meaning. With the help of the educators and police, the children in eight schools were asked to show any tattoos they had, and 700 revealed marks of the 26 and 28 gangs, some with more than one on their bodies. Police say the learners, many of whom are in primary school, merely have the tattoos for show and are not involved in crime, though some are asked by gangsters to steal goods such as cellphones for them, knowing they are too young to be arrested. Four learners, three of whom were in lower primary school, had knives – to protect themselves, they said.

    Lucky arranged for police, parents, children and local councillors to meet in the local hall to discuss this problem. About a thousand people came. Speakers explained to the children that the tattoos originate in prisons where inmates receive numbers and group into gangs to protect themselves. In prisons the 26s always seek money and blood while the 28s specialise in rape and murder. Speakers explained that when the children are older, they will be seen as criminals and gang members because of these tattoos. Also, if they end up in prison themselves, having these tattoos will endanger their lives.

    Almost all of the children were shocked to hear this and said that they had not understood the associations and origins of the tattoos and wanted to have them removed. Police, parents and Lucky are trying to contact tattooists to help take them off, while some children have started trying to erase the marks themselves at home, with one unsuccessfully using a hot iron.

    An important underlying issue is that many children see prisoners and gangsters as role models. To tackle this, Lucky and police are currently arranging for all 700 children to visit prisoners in jail. It is hoped that by seeing the grim reality of life there, learners will realise that crime and prison gangs are not glamorous after all.

Contact Webmaster | View the Promotion of Access to Information Act | View our Privacy Policy
© University of KwaZulu-Natal: All Rights Reserved