Coordinator: Dudu Basi. Dudu joined CCJ in 2006.
Contact: 033 263 1049 (tel/fax)
Most common cases: Domestic violence and legal advice
Areas served: The communities of Bruntville Township, Mpofana, Midrus, Oxspring, Siera Range, Scottfontein, Buxton, Hidcote, Cumbeck, The Grove and Rosetta.
Description: Mooi River is a small rural town in a predominantly farming area surrounded by informal settlements. The main one is Bruntville township, which has poor infrastructure: electricity and water cut-offs are common and streets are narrow and badly maintained. People in outlying areas only come to town for necessities such as groceries. Clinics are available, though they have problems with medical supplies.
The Mooi River office is at the police station, on the outskirts of town and far from the farming community. Roads and transport are poor. In 2011, the office dealt with 228 cases, with legal advice (102) and child abuse (53) being the most common.
How long have you worked for CCJ?
What led you to work for CCJ?
My dream was always to be a social worker, but because of financial difficulties I couldn’t study for that. I grew up as an orphan and l always wanted to help children. I heard about the centre from a friend who visited it with a problem.
What are the most common cases that you deal with?
Most problems are ID problems. Parents pass away and leave children with no documents like birth certificates. They go to Home Affairs but the local officials don’t have the correct information. I give them referral letters for Home Affairs explaining the law and what they need, and this helps them to get their documents.
The other common cases are of maintenance. I find that people get help with maintenance from the courts but after about three months one party stops paying, and the other person comes to me for help. I contact the Maintenance Office for them, and they take up the matter and get the payment started again.
“The social workers told me to come back later and for two days they didn’t help. So I took the child on my back to the shelter without the paperwork."
- Coordinator Dudu Basi
What advice would you give children growing up in Himeville?
I would say stay away from drugs and sex so that your future can be bright.
Who is your role model?
One of my relatives. The way he looks after our family and other people, he lays his life down for others.
Do you ever use traditional laws to solve your problems?
Sometimes there is a small problem where the law can’t help, and we refer those cases to others. For example, a woman came here asking for compensation from someone who accused her of bewitching them. She wanted two cows as compensation. I couldn’t help her so I referred her to the traditional court.
Is there a law that you feel should be changed?
It is the child support grant. I would give the grant to the grannies because youngsters do their own things with the money and the children are suffering. I would pay the grant as food vouchers, and make sure there are more mobile clinics to treat the children so that the mothers don’t need the money to travel to clinics.
Has the behaviour of people in your area changed in the time you have worked there?
Yes, a little bit. There is less domestic violence now. At first only women reported their problems. Now men also come, usually to complain about their wives. Instead of just hitting them, they come to me first.
What are the particular challenges that you face in your work?
Transport is the main one. Often we get calls to go to people’s houses to help someone, but we cannot get there quickly or sometimes even until the next day. We rely on lifts from the police, and sometimes we can’t get them when we want.
Is there a case that you remember that was especially rewarding?
There was a baby, ten months old. His neighbours called me to say they had heard a child crying all night. I went there in the morning and saw this baby boy on the floor crying. His parents had abandoned him and there were people sitting around it laughing and saying ‘Where are your parents?’ I asked them why they didn’t help and they said that they didn’t know who the parents are. I called the community health worker and asked her to keep the child for the night because I already had two children in my home, an abused child and my own. The health worker agreed.
I bought food for the child and went to the Department of Social Development and asked a social worker to do the paperwork so that the child could be admitted to a place of safety, a private shelter. The social workers told me to come back later and for two days they didn’t help. So I took the child on my back to the shelter without the paperwork. The woman who runs the shelter was extremely friendly and took the child in. I visited the baby two days later and was happy – it was clean and had new clothes. It was later sent to a good school. I always visit the centre to see how the child is. It’s two and a half years old now.