Social Problems

“The family goes without food for two to three days. The parent is boiling stones on the wood fire for the children to sleep in the belief that food is being prepared.” 
                                                 - Coordinator Zolta Buthelezi

Zandile VisitBackground

These are cases that involve issues such as relationship difficulties, grief and loss, poverty, neighbour disputes, drug and alcohol abuse, custody issues, teenage pregnancy, delinquent or truant children and cultural beliefs such as witchcraft.

Coordinators offer counselling, refer clients to social workers and doctors, and help them obtain social grants and contact NGOs.

In 2011, 12% of cases (682) involved social problems, a slight increase in 2010.

(Left) Coordinator Zandile Khanyile visits a client’s home near New HanoverHimeville home visit

Zolta Buthelezi, Sept – Oct 2008:  Extreme Poverty and Access to School

A member of a focus group reported a problem involving non–payment of school fees. I made a home visit to the affected family and discovered poverty: the family goes without food for two to three days. The parent is boiling stones on the wood fire for the children to sleep in the belief that food is being prepared. The home has no water because they have not paid. The family has no income; they are surviving on handouts. They have a number of children with no birth certificates. The parents applied for identity documents but have waited for years without result and so do not have access to social grants. I also discovered that the children are going to school after eating only porridge or nothing at all.

I discovered an NGO that deals with poverty. I visited this organisation on 22 September 2008 and Povertyasked for food parcels for the poor family I visited. I discovered that the school had notified the poverty organization about this family. The director told me they had provided 10kg of mealie meal, tinned food, beans and soups for the family. It was collected by an educator from the children’s school.

On 21 October 2008 I visited the school principal with a supporting document stating that he cannot chase a learner out of his school. The principal became angry and tried to justify his action and even threatened to sue my organisation. He claimed that I was abusing him and the entire school. I encouraged him to do as he wished.

He asked our organisation to visit his school for legal empowerment on sexual offences. A copy of this letter is attached to the report. He apologised for their lack of skills in doing case work and follow-ups. He blamed his circuit office for their failure to have legal practitioners like CCJ paralegals. He invited the poor mother to come back the following day in my absence.

The poor mother appreciated our intervention and reported that she was exempted from paying school fees on the basis of poverty.

 “You go to attend to a case, and there is just a hut without a proper floor or windows. The mother and children are there, and there is nothing to eat in the house.”
CCJ Director Winnie Kubayi

Lucky Mkhize, September 2008:

Helping an Old Blind Man

On 5 September a 60 year old blind man was brought to the office by his late niece’s girlfriend and referred to me by the Mpophomeni police. The client’s cousin is an Induna at Mpophomeni and we took him there. The cousin and his wife said that the client could only stay with them for a short while because they were both employed and away from home during the day. We took him there on the Friday and were asked to fetch him on Monday.

The client was never married but has two children who work on a farm where he had also worked and was injured, which resulted in his blindness. I phoned an old age home. The sister to whom I spoke said that even though the committee only meets on a Wednesday I could bring my client. I had to take the client to the doctor first for a check-up. The client also had to have a funeral policy in order to be admitted to the home.

I fetched the client from his cousin’s home on the Monday as agreed. I took him to the doctor. He was given medication as the doctor discovered that he had asthma. I then took him to the old age home. After that I went to the funeral parlour to pay the arrears on his funeral policy. It was 4 months in arrears. I the n took the book back to the old age home.

 Coordinator Zolta Buthelezi:

“The child support grant is a problem. Mothers leave the children with their grannies and take the money for themselves.”

Sometimes when I pass the home I call on him because he needs people to visit him.

Patricia Maphanga, Apr 2008: Custody Issue


A client from Bulwer came to say that she wanted to give her 4 month old baby to her father because at the moment she is mentally ill and taking medication. She told me the father’s name and that she wants him to know that want him to know that she will take the baby back from him once she gets well again. She came with her siblings to witness that she was giving the baby to the father.

I helped them fill out an affidavit together and referred them to the Magistrate’s Court.

Zolta Buthelezi, June 2008: Delinquent Child

A 54 year old man from Mpumalanga Township said that he had difficulty controlling his 15 year old grandson. The mother was dead and the man’s wife, a nurse, was applying for guardianship of the boy. He said they boy was beyond his control; he steals money and buys whatever he wants. He buys dagga and he is doing grade 8 at Wozanazo High School. He attends school when he wants, and sometimes doesn’t sleep at home.

I wrote a letter inviting the boy into our office for consultation. On the 4th June the client and the child. The child admitted that he smoked and stayed outdoors until midnight with his friends, but he promised to stop it. On the 10th June the client reported that the problem is worsening and that the child had slept out from home again. On the 11th June the granny reported the same problem that the child was missing.

I referred the grandfather to a social worker from the Department of Social Development, who visited the client’s house on the 13th June.

Dudu Basi, Dec 2008: Home Visit to Elderly Woman - Contacting a Hospital
On 26 December I made a home visit after the case was reported to me by the social worker. The client was a 74 year old granny whose daughter had gone on holiday and left the client alone in the house. The client’s problem was that she was suffering from diarrhoea and she could not walk when I arrived. There were no contact details for the client’s daughter.

I gave the client a bath with the help of a tenant. I also fed her. I then phoned for an ambulance that took four hours to come. The client was taken to St. Appolinaris Hospital.

Lucky Mkhize, Nov 2008: Abuse of Disabled Person – Referral to Social Workers

This case was reported at my office by a police officer and so I made a home visit to investigate it. A young physically disabled man aged 25 had been placed in an outside hut. The hut was made of planks and the weather was cold when I visited. The other members of the family were inside the 4 room house, enjoying the heater that was on.

All the members of the family depend on the disability grant of this disabled man but they do not take good care of him. He was sitting on an old dirty sponge with dirty blankets. When he eats without the help of others, he uses his mouth to pick up the food. At that moment even his nose dipped into the food.

I was so hurt and upset by this; I tried to control myself Abuse of disabledbut could not. I went outside the hut and cried. The family told me that they would be grateful if he could be taken away by the social workers.

On the same day at 6 p.m. I went to the client’s cousin as she receives his grant. She said the client refuses to go to the social workers and she said that it had only been on that day that the client had not been cleaned.

I went to the social workers in Howick to report the case. I was promised that the Department of South African Social Security (SASSA) would make a follow up as the case falls under their department. I was asked to request the cousin who receives the grant to come to the SASSA offices.

Theresa Thusi, Aug 2008: Dispute with Neighbour

A 70 year man from Hopewell Location reported that he had a problem with his neighbour who is also his relative. He is abusing him emotionally and physically and threatened to shoot him. On the 17th of August in the morning his wife came to his house running and crying, and he hid her in his room. She was chased by her husband. The client managed to stop the neighbour from beating his wife, but the neighbour told him straight that he is going to kill him because he is interfering in their matters as a married couple. The man decided to report him to the police because he feels threatened me and wants to be protected from this man. The police referred him to me.

I told the client about a Peace Order and how it works, I then filled in the forms for the client and referred him back to the police. 

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