There are many professions that are still dominated by masculinity as well as by the misconstrued belief that the Caucasian male is the most viable for such professions. In the Northern Cape, Law is one such profession where the infiltration of females is very scarce. Let alone the infiltration of young, black females.
Thandisa Tyuthuza however, a 31-year-old, practising black female Advocate originally from the Eastern Cape but now residing and working in Kimberley has worked hard to break that barrier. Having matriculated from Kimberley Girls High School in 2005, she went on to study Law at the University of Stellenbosch where she graduated with her LLB in 2010 and has since been practising as an advocate at the Northern Cape Chamber of Advocates here in Kimberley. Currently the only black female advocate at the Northern Cape Chamber of Advocates, she is most certainly a beacon of hope for many young and aspiring law students.
“According to my fathers’ narrative I always wanted to be a lawyer. I had actually always had a passion for accounting and history, and applied at UCT for BAcc and Stellenbosch for LLB, and had decided that I will go to any of those universities which responded to my application first. Stellenbosch responded first, with an academic bursary, and that’s when I knew that Law school is where I am meant to be,” she explained.
It is no secret that women have faced an uphill battle trying to climb up the various corporate and professional ladders. Gaining access into the legal field has been no exception, Advocate Tyuthuza comments on some of the most frustrating aspects of the current legal demographical system, “The greatest enemies of success for our young and upcoming black lawyers right now is the lack of transformation, radicalised patterns of employment in the legal sphere, the lack of financial freedom and the idea that our white counterparts are “better lawyers.”
Let me put the magnitude of this into perspective real quick.
Of the 24 330 attorneys in the country, only 38% percent are female attorneys. When we take it a step further, we see that only 15% of that 38% are black females. This leaves the total of black female attorneys at 3604 nationwide. To look at it from a geographical perspective, the Northern Cape and Limpopo Provinces constitute a mere 2% of the spread of attorneys in the country.
Taking a specific focus now on the statistics of advocates in the country, of which Ms Tyuthuza is one, we see that of the total 2571 advocates in South Africa a total of 645 are females of which 116 are black females.
Let us move onto the statistics of senior counsel in our country; of the 451 members of senior counsel, 27 are female, 4 of those females are black.
Being young, black and female on its own is a great trilogy. Add Advocate to that title and you have a whole lot of power. Unfortunately, power that has to be confirmed far and beyond what is necessary in order for it to be recognised and appreciated.
“I have had to work very hard in proving that I too am a capable advocate regardless of my orientation. I believe that respect is earned, and have worked really hard and still do to ensure that I get the respect that I deserve as an Advocate.”
Every career path has to be embarked on with a purpose. You need to know why you have embarked on a journey so as to constantly have a motivating factor to do your best. Advocate Tyuthuza’s why is driven by her love for meeting new people, “Meeting different people every day with different legal issues is definitely one of the joys of my profession. I love people and thus the constant engagement with different people, from different walks of life always leaves me enriched and more knowledgeable. There is something new to learn every day, it is never boring because it is a continuous learning space with regards to human behaviour and the law.”
When asked about her career path in the next ten years, a confident and energised Tyuthuza had the following to say, “There is still so much that is going to happen, God has amazing things planned for me. But for now I am carving my path to being “Adv. T Tyuthuza SC (Senior Counsel).”
It is evident that Thandisa is a go –getter by heart. She recognises her power and ensures a day does not go by that she is not exercising her full potential. To the upcoming black lawyers, attorneys, advocates and judges she wishes that everyone be unapologetic about their greatness and the many things they want to achieve, “Above all else believe in yourself and recognise your value. Do not ask for permission, just do it” – anonymous quote.