Meet Busi Mpunga – a new director at Garlicke & Bousfield specialising in Banking Litigation.
Relishing the knowledge that in this testing financial environment some corporates out there are forging ahead and growing, I approached my meeting with Garlicke & Bousfield’s newest director, Busi Mpunga, with some curiosity.
Looking up from her laptop, I was greeted by a bright-eyed young attorney with a warm smile that lit up her face. This is no litigator, I thought to myself, but I soon discovered a woman of contradictions – beneath that engaging smile lay the steely resolve of a formidable litigation attorney.
Born in Mthatha together with her twin sister Busiswa, Busi’s family home in Tsolo, in the Eastern Cape, was where she was raised with her three siblings by her mother, Thandiswa – the person who has had the greatest impact on her life.
Believing independence achieved through education to be the most important goal for her children, Thandiswa enrolled the twins in Grade three at Hoerskool Barkly East, an Afrikaans medium boarding school three hours drive from home. When I asked Busi how she reacted to this, she touchingly described how she and her twin sister ran after the car as her mother drove away. But the twins had each other, and they quickly adapted to their new environment, while their tenacious mother ran several businesses to afford the education she desperately wanted for her daughters.
High school was even further away from home, at Groote Schuur High School in Cape Town, but Thandiswa kept a close watch on the twins, monitoring their progress. School holidays were spent helping their mother in her various enterprises, which included delivering chickens to customers.
The boarding fees became a financial burden for Thandiswa, and for their last two years at school the twins boarded with their older sister, Tabisa, getting up at 5am to catch two buses to get to school on time. This did not stop Busi from participating in school activities, including playing first team netball and singing in the school choir. “Academically I was always in the top five in the class,” explained Busi, “not because I was interested in school subjects but because I am naturally competitive. My mother insisted on us performing well at school to secure admission to university.”
While Busiswa graduated with a Bachelor of Administration and an Honours Degree and found work in Johannesburg, Busi graduated with a Law Degree and joined a large Cape legal firm to start her practical legal training, meaning that for the first time in 17 years the twins were separated.
It was not the pursuit of a career that brought Busi to Durban, but romance, having met her now husband, Khaya, at a friend’s wedding some months prior. “We did not want to continue with a long-distance relationship, and when Khaya drove me to my interview he sat in the car park at G&B, praying I would be accepted!” laughed Busi.
When asked who she wished she could meet, to my surprise Busi replied, “My late brother, Anathi, who was killed when I was only four years old, and my mother-in-law, Nolusapho, who lost her fight to cancer when Khaya was in matric. My husband dedicated his first Comrade’s Marathon to her memory, and lives his life as if she is still watching him. She made him who he is today, so I reckon she is a special woman.”
Revealing that she has a deep faith and sense of spirituality, enormous empathy, and warmth, I asked Busi how she reconciled that with her success as a litigator. “Understanding people is integral to being a good attorney, and in the words of my favourite musician, Beyonce, “I love my job, but it’s more than that: I need it.”
Busi has specialised in Banking Litigation in particular, enjoying the technical aspect to it and the attention to detail that is required. “Balancing the rights of the consumer and the sustainability of the financial model of lending is not easy, particularly in the current economic climate, and this has attracted the Court’s attention in recent years, which makes practising successfully in this area of law all the more challenging,” she explained.
“I am so proud to be appointed as a director of G&B. I felt that G&B was “home” from the day I joined the firm, and am looking forward to making my personal mark in its history.” There is no doubt in my mind that she will.
Tags: Busi Mpunga, Garlicke & Bousfield, The Ridge magazine