Advocate Vulani Baloyi of Mbombela is a true inspiration. We visit her to find out how she balances her professional life and being a single mother.
Vulani grew up in the rural village of Mhinga near Malamulele in Limpopo, and is extremely proud of her Tsonga heritage. She was raised by parents Eric and Maria Baloyi, though her mother sadly passed away when she was 11 years old.
Vulani remembers her childhood as a happy place where she was raised in a caring environment by not only loving parents, but also an extended family. When listening to her talking about family and growing up, the real meaning of “it takes a village to raise a child” becomes clear.
She attended Kheto Nxumayo Agricultural High School in Siyandhani Village close to Giyani, capital of the former Gazankulu. “For some reason my father saw fit to enrol me in an agricultural high school. It was quite an experience, but, I must add, no fun learning how to slaughter animals!”
Her father (76), a retired policeman, is a force to be reckoned with and has made his own mark in the history of South Africa. In 2018 the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, awarded him the Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to the development of boxing in South Africa.
Vulani proudly tells how he has not only trained numerous young boxers through the years, but also produced professional ones, such as Cassius Baloyi, Isaac Hlatshwayo and Jeffrey Mathebula. No wonder he has raised a strong, independent woman who is more than capable of changing the world wherever she goes.
After finishing matric, Vulani first attended the University of Durban Westville and later on the University of Zululand where she obtained a B.Juris degree. She is an academic at heart, and also boasts both an LLB degree and a master’s degree in law.
Her curriculum vitae is impressive, and all her accomplishments and qualifications are just too numerous to include in one article, although we cannot help but mention a few. She holds a post-graduate diploma in international law, which she obtained as a full-time student from the University of Melbourne in Australia.
Vulani also boasts a vast knowledge of land reform, environmental law, indigenous law, corporate governance, human resources, contracts and financial management.
At present, she is director of legal services at the Mpumalanga Provincial Treasury. Vulani is quite satisfied with what the department has accomplished. “My 11th year with the department also marks the 11th year in which we have received a clean audit,” she says. And we all know that this is no easy feat, and something to be really proud of!
Notwithstanding the successes achieved by the provincial treasury, there are still many challenges faced by municipalities, and according to Vulani, they are working hard to streamline all processes and expenditure.
Although she enjoys doing what she does, she would like to return to teaching when the occasion presents itself. “From 2003 to 2006, I worked as a senior lecturer and coordinator at the Department of Environmental, Management and Mining Law at the University of Limpopo’s School of Law,” Vulani says. “I enjoyed teaching and establishing a love of law in students, and would like to return to the world of academics, where I fit in perfectly as a lifelong student myself.”
But she is not only making her mark as a highly qualified legal eagle. She is also a single mother of Andile (23), a BCom intern, and RJ (10), who she describes as “the man of the house”. “It is extremely important to raise young men who are ready to take their positions in life with full responsibility,” she says.
“Men who do not take responsibility are a huge challenge in the modern world and in many instances the problem lies with the parents. Boys should know that women play a very prominent role on all levels of society and that they need support.” According to her, it is also important to teach boys that household tasks are not only the responsibility of women.
But how does Vulani balance a very busy professional schedule on the one hand and being a mother on the other? “I try to keep my professional worries and stress at work while spending quality time with my children when I am at home.” This must not be easy, but Vulani is an example of the fact that this is indeed possible.
When asked whether she plans to stay in South Africa despite the present worries, Vulani is adamant that she has a role to play in combating the difficulties, not only through sharing her knowledge, but also through her involvement in community work.
Text: Liezel Lüneburg. Photographer: Tanya Erasmus