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Girl power!

Nomfundo grew up in Bronkhorstspruit where she attended Bronkhorstspruit Primary School. She remembers her first days in grade 1 as quite intimidating.

“I walked into a school packed with white faces and wondered where all the children who looked like me were hiding,” she says.

“Luckily I was brought up by strong parents, whose outlook on life dictated that we should grow where we are planted!”

During her teenage years at Cultura High School she took part in public speaking and served on the school’s debate team.

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Nomfundo was also elected as the speaker of the Gauteng Youth Parliament and represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Youth Parliament in Australia.

She studied law at Unisa while simultaneously working full-time to be able to make ends meet.

“As I was working while studying, I had this vision of where I was going,” Nomfundo says.

“Being in one place while aiming for a totally different objective is uncomfortable and frustrating at times.”

But the knowledge of where she was headed never limited what Nomfundo was doing at that moment and she really gave everything wherever she worked.

Before she started her legal internship she served as company secretary at the Mpumalanga Department of Safety and Security.

Both directors under whom she worked; first David Sempe and later on Dudu Thwala; played a huge role in her life by not limiting her to traditional secretarial work.

“I played a part in research and other projects and had to fill a big girl’s shoes, taking on many responsibilities.”

While working at the department she went through a divorce, which is commonly considered as one of the most traumatic experiences any person could suffer.

The fact that she had a little boy to look after only complicated matters.

“During a divorce, one loses a bit of oneself. The person you thought you knew dies and a new you emerges.

“Depending on your attitude, this new person has the potential to look back and realise that the whole ordeal was just another human experience and ultimately made you stronger.”

She then joined Seymour Du Toit & Basson and served as a candidate attorney under Principal Cornelia Basson.

She remembers her two years as an article clerk as her poorest but richest years, a time when she really learned to appreciate life.

“I now realise that I need to always remember the lowest, most difficult times in my life in order to stay humble.”

Although the law has been a male playground for many years, things have changed. Over the last few decades many women have joined the game with gusto.

“The playing field is rife with aggression and the game is played at a tremendous pace,” Nomfundo says.

Although women have definitely obtained their rightful place in the legal milieu, it is not without its challenges and female lawyers are sometimes still treated differently

Luckily these attitudes are in the process of disappearing altogether.

The modern world has come a long way in redefining gender roles and women have been empowered to take control of their own lives.

These days, communities are rife with strong women, and Mbombela is no exception. The collective group of exceptional, hardworking and well-connected women continually grows from strong to stronger.

According to Nomfundo, it helps to be married to a wonderful husband who supports her every step of the way.

“Themba, who works for ABSA Business in Mbombela, is passionate about life and dynamic and does not for one second underestimate my abilities,” she says.

On the topic of her vision for South Africa, Nomfundo is adamant that every single South African should work towards a united front.

“The #ImStaying Facebook initiative is an inspiring example of the fact that people really just want to share positive stories and live in peace, helping each other where possible, irrespective of skin colour.”

According to her everyone should play their part, however small, in obtaining the collective objective of peace.

Nomfundo can be contacted at Jiyane Madonsela Attorneys on 087-807-7040 or at [email protected]

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