Traditional Leaders

In many rural communities, traditional leaders (amakhosi and indunas) are the most influential figures. From the start of the outreach program, there has therefore been extensive negotiation with them: they were made aware of all aspects of the program and given the opportunity to voice their rejection, acceptance or requirements of it.

Where support centres are based in rural areas, coordinators now regularly attend traditional tribunals, underpinning the authority of the traditional leaders. Until fairly recently, the proceedings of traditional tribunals were a male preserve.

Nokuthula Mchunu(Left) Coordinator Nokuthula Mchunu has developed good relations with Inkhosis in Bulwer

When a coordinator is introduced, typically the induna will say: “We have worked with this coordinator for some time and through listening to her, I have been able to resolve community problems. In some cases you think you are doing the right thing only to realise that you are going against the law.”

Coordinators report that indunas refer cases to them and gradually embrace new laws over traditional ones. In Emangwaneni for example, the local Inkosi vowed to eradicate the custom of marrying minors away. During 2009, CCJ was invited to the Amajuba Local House of Traditional Leaders to do a presentation on its work and to explore avenues for collaboration with Madadeni and Osizweni support centres. Amakhosi who were present were eager to invite coordinators to do workshops in their areas. Inkhosis and Indunas are now also included in CCJ workshops on laws.

In Ekuvukeni, where the support centre is based at a traditional court, Inkosi Kunene has asked CCJ whether they would be interested to use his area as a research base on social issues affecting rural people. He was particularly concerned with the prevalence of violent crimes and other social problems such as teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.

Patricia Maphanga, May 2008: Advising Traditional Leaders at Traditional TribunalsFisani Ngcobo

It is amazing that amaKhosi have been against the work our office has been doing. They did not want our office to solve domestic violence cases at first, but now that they have seen the work our office is doing, they refer clients to us. They also asked us to be present in the Tribal Court, which resulted in our solving cases for them.

The relationship does not end there. They trust our office most of all because they use it in the resolution of their own problems.

                                  (Right) Coordinator Fisani Ngcobo advises traditional leaders in Bergville
Dudu Basi, Aug 2010: Referring Clients to Traditional Courts

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.

Nokuthula Mchunu, March 2008: Solving a Problem for an Inkhosi

Even the chiefs respect our services; this is because they know that we are able to deal with their personal problems. A problem I resolved involved a chief’s daughter who was taken from her maternal family. The chief took care of her and sent her to boarding school. He suspected that a member of the maternal family was illegally collecting the child’s grant.

He was uncertain about how to find out the truth and so I phoned the Hlanganani SASSA office and was given the name of the person who was collecting the grant. It was a member of the maternal family. I phoned her and she appreciated the fact that I gave her a warning that she had no right to the child grant rather than having her charged with fraud. The matter of the grant was sorted out and this led to the chief trusting the services we provide. 

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