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SABC3 | Sundays | 21h30
  Episode 24: Sncedeni - Help Us (27June)
Broadcast Details

Show: Special Assignment VIII
Episode Title: Sncedeni - Help Us
Date: Tuesday, 27 June, 2006
Time: 21h30
Channel: SABC 3

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eps24_1Maintenance is an emotional issue at the best of times. As if the stress of compelling ex-husbands to pay through a court order isn’t enough, many women also face a different battle.

Instead of going through the simple process of collecting the money at a maintenance office every month, they find themselves queuing for hours, in vain.

Celia Khalo is one of them. She’s lost count of how long she’s spent standing outside the Ga-Rankuwa Court in the North-West Province.

“It’s like going to hell… and the kids will be waiting for you – ‘Mummy’s coming home with the money’ – and when you come home – eish – no money!”

R750 is deducted from her ex-husband’s salary every month by his employer. Yet it never reaches her. She’s even taken the pay slips to the maintenance office as proof.

“There’s no explanation – they just say: ‘There’s no money!’ Just like that. Maybe for the first month I could say it’s a mistake. But for the second, third and fourth month, the same mistake? No!” Now she is regretting that she trusted the state to get her maintenance money for her.

Husband Ezekiel Matlala is also suspicious. Ezekiel has himself gone to the Ga-Rankuwa court and confirmed that the money has been paid in. But it doesn’t seem to help. “Now I have to pop up more money every month,” he says. “And my money is there at the court – someone is chowing the money.”

This scenario isn’t confined to Ga-Rankuwa. Women in the Vaal Triangle have similar complaints – and the way they are treated by maintenance officials makes the situation worse. “They are playing with us… every time we come here we stand for a long time in the queue, from 6am to midday, then they yell: ‘There’s no money!’ They yell at you!”

eps24_2It’s no different in the Eastern Cape. Nomampondo Mngeni says she’s had enough. “I am here to fetch the money which is by rights my daughter’s money. They make us feel like we are begging for money. Like it’s their money and it’s not! It’s our right to be respected as citizens of this country… they treat us like dogs!”

The Justice Department says delays are largely due to a lack of “capacity”. NGOs working at the courts say it’s more a lack of will, skill and a poor system.

“Sncedeni” is the sad tale of the way women are treated by public servants, whose watchword is meant to be ‘batho pele’ – people first.

It’s written and produced by Jessica Pitchford, with camerawork by Jan de Klerk and Ivan Oberholzer

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