Ingwavuma is a deep rural area situated in the northern most tip of Kwa Zulu Natal. The projects service three tribal areas of KwaMathenjwa, KwaNyawo and KwaMngomezulu, also known as part of District 27.2, the Jozini Municipality within Umkhanyakude District.
The population is approximately 108 000 with adult unemployment at 60%. 5% of households have piped water and 3.6% of households are supplied with electricity.
Umkhanyakude District Municipality is 1 of the 2 identified districts in South Africa where there is the lowest level of economic activity.
In addition, it is 1 of 13 nodes where the level of underdevelopment needs special attention. That is, Umkhanyakude is a presidential node as defined by the Department of Provincial and Local Government. (DPLG Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme Nodal focus).
To refer to this area as poverty stricken is grossly understated. Plainly put, there is a lack of access to basic human needs.
The female in the household (as young as 13) drops out of school to care for her younger siblings. She falls prey to older men who ‘propose love’ and ‘promises’ to take care of her and siblings. Craving love and security she believes him. After she falls pregnant, he disappears. The pattern continues; she has more children from other men, contracts HIV and dies in 5-10 years. Her daughter repeats the cycle. On the other hand, the male OVC are easily lured into delinquent behaviour for survival and this is where some of the “Tsotsi’s” of South Africa begin their journey.
An 18 years old female was orphaned at age 5. Her extended family took her in and she was sexual abused by her uncle. One day she asked her uncle why he did that to her and not his daughters, was it because she didn’t have parents? She eventually ran away and started fending for herself from the age of 12. She sometimes stole to survive and used sex to get money, food or accommodation. She was caught stealing at the local supermarket and was jailed. Because she was pregnant at the time, they released her pending the outcome of her court case. Instead of going to the hospital to have her baby, she delivered it alone in an outside toilet and dropped the newborn down the ‘drop toilet’. Obviously the baby died and the teenager went into hiding. Recently, she was caught and is in prison waiting trial. A three-year old HIV positive orphan is living with her extended family. The child has been grossly neglected and has become seriously ill. The relatives are afraid to interact with the little girl because they believe they would be infected. The uncle has refused to allow the aunt to take her to clinic for treatment. When asked why by one of our field workers, his response was ‘what do I get out of it?’
Situations of child abuse and neglect have become far too familiar. The local department of welfare is over-stretched lacking staff, transport and training to deal with such cases.