Nonesi (Ezibeleni)

The Nonesi Development and Advice Office has its own website:  http://www.nonesilda.org.za

If one drives two hours from East London, away from the temperate waters of the Indian Ocean over the green pasturelands of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, one arrives in Queenstown, a small town surrounded on all sides by sharp-crested ridges and set in the middle of a largely prosperous farming district. Then, heading east for a few kilometres beyond the town limits, one finds oneself in the comparatively barren streets of the Ezibeleni township.

Ezibeleni was established in the 1960s and officially recognised in 1974, when black South Africans were not allowed to live, but only to work, in the white-dominated Queenstown, Eastern Cape. In order to pursue the policy of separate development, the apartheid-era government of the 70’s dictated that, due to its location on the map and the predominant Xhosa ethnicity of its people, Ezibeleni would belong to Transkei, one of ten fragmented batustans, or homelands, scattered across South Africa.

Ezibeleni is the largest township in the Queenstown area. Its original name was Queensdale, named after Queenstown.

The area where the Advice Office is situated was officially named Nonesi in April 2003, after the Royal Queen of Abathembu.  The Nonesi area is located alongside where Ezibeleni, Greater Queenstown, Lukhanji Local Municipality and Chris Hani District Municipality are situated. 

It is currently operational in the entire Chris Hani District, and to a greater extent facilitating its community development services to other parts of the country like Umgungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal and Kimberly in Northern Cape.  Nonesi serves as one of Scat's mentor Advice Offices. 

Nonesi Advice Office Achievements over the past two years:

Improved its access to justice services to the community. The Office initiated a free social security service program for the poor & marginalised including advice, referrals, representation and personal consultation support. Its paralegal caseload primarily addresses child support and HIV disability grants

Watchdog on corrupt activities (nepotism) within the community often arising at local government.  A Councillors’ parents were identified as the sole provider, earning financial rewards from the community of Thembani Location, by providing water and the charging of cell phones.  

Identifying & broadening advocacy to ensure concrete community changes. Based on the above case, the Nonesi Office with The Human Rights Commission advocated for and were successful in facilitating access to water and electricity in Thembani Location. 

Accessed funding. The Office has accessed funding from the Rhodes University Legal Aid Clinic, National Lottery and Foundation for Human Rights totalling R 723 700 for human rights workshops, social security support services, self care programmes for caregivers, public events and campaigns. National Lottery funds have also been used for administration and salary costs for a funded vehicle, renovations and training on quality management systems for staff

For the year 2010 the Office raised R 40 000 through innovative Fundraising Rewards Incentive Scheme (FRIS) activities which included the sale of goats at a reduced price for traditional practices. They used these funds to promote safer circumcision practices as well as for their audit. The office also reports their FRIS resource usage to the community at their AGM

Successful networking. The Nonesi Office ensures that it participates in NGO activities locally and nationally. It has recently partnered with an FET College to strategise projects for poverty alleviation amongst youth. 

Mediates community needs and government services as an identified accountable entity. The Nonesi Office partnered with Home Affairs to promote the “How Local Government Works” campaign and as a result distributed several identity documents.

Facilitates access to bursaries for disadvantaged children

The Office has noted a reduction of death rates from risky circumcision practices due to their interventions.

Raised awareness of the potential for HIV risk linked to human trafficking which has resulted in a high number of reported cases to the police.

Challenges currently facing the Nonesi Advice Office: 

Organisationally the short-term funding cycles disrupt the continuity of work and the livelihoods of staff

The maintenance of the website is costly

Developmental challenges include: high unemployment; HIV and health-related issues: high levels of patriarchal beliefs; low knowledge and scarcity of female condoms; stigma and discrimination; poor health infrastructure; Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARV) defaulters who do so to access disability grants; users of traditional medicines replacing ARV medications; defaulters on the course of TB medication.

Excerpt from Scat's 25 Year Anniversary Celebration Publication:

There is something deeply moving,almost electrifying about hearing a Xhosa praise song.  Gcotyelwa Xaba, co-ordinator of the Nonesi Development and Legal Advice Centre in EziBeleni, a township near Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, delivered a powerful poem praising Scat at its 25th Anniversary Workshop, held in 2009.

“Scat is a Mamba, a snake, nestled at the foot of Table Mountain.  It slithers the hills and valleys of South Africa bringing development and change to rural communities.”

Some women in the audience ululated their support, others cheered and applauded. As thepraise song unfolded the real impact of Scat’s work over 25 years in the country’s forgotten corners became clear. Gcotyelwa was a woman who understood suffering and the havoc poverty could wreak in peoples’ lives.

“Scat has not wavered in supporting Advice Offices which educate our communities about human rights and now democracy,” she sang.  Nonesi Development and Legal Advice Office was co-founded by Gcotyelwa in 2003 to help the local community with legal advice regarding land claims and corruption in service and housing delivery.   “With Scat’s financial support we have grown and today our goal is to encourage development in our  community,” she said in an interview.

Nonesi Advice Office
Ezibeleni Old Rent Office
1060 Zone 1
EZIBELENI, 5326
Tel/Fax: 047 873 2277
NPO: 041-730
Contact: Mrs Gcotyelwa Xaba
Email: nonesilda@adviceoffice.org.za