Most of you know the colourful building, Hearty Meal, in the main street of Mtunzini.  Inside is a sensory overload of wonderful trinkets, clothes, dolls and antiques.  But there is more to this historic building, and that is the woman with the beautiful eyes and soft voice, Charmaine Kruger.  

Charmaine moved to Mtunzini with her parents, 50 years ago.  She went to Mtunzini Primary School and still remembers the green and white, check handmade skirts they wore to school every day and even selling mangos on the street corner.   For her it was a joy growing up in this lovely town.  She also loved visiting her Grandma in Hlabisa.  Her granny lived near a convent and Charmaine spent a lot of time with the nuns helping them garden, paint and provide acts of service to the community. She feels it is here that she really fell in love with helping people.

In Grade 8, previously called Standard 6, she went to Empangeni High School and took the daily bus to and from Zini.  She can still remember the Domoina Floods back then and how she hoped the bus would be late, so she did not have to go to Maths. Charmaine says she has worked since the age of 5, always helping-out her parents and receiving pocket money in return. Each month she would receive R10 as allowance and had to save R5. She bought her first car with these savings, a Mini for R2000.  She is and, always been a hard worker.

After school she wanted to be a Nurse, but her mother got her a job at a Perm agency.  She worked there for a while, but then moved on and did everything from moving people from Natal to Gauteng, to baking and catering and even had a garden service that made her drive a tractor in a dress through the streets of Mtunzini….

Today she caters, in and around Mtunzini, for multiple functions while also running the shop, Hearty Meal.  Hearty Meal’s building has been around for 100 years.  When her parents bought it 50 years ago, the property had a house, shop and rondavel on it.  Over the years they have slowly added parts to what we see today.  Hearty Meal has been a Mtunzini must stop over the years and Charmaine explains how many buses used to frequent the shop, especially when the beaches were still open.  They also had a lot of bikers coming in, although it was never a bikers club, she says for some reason the bikers would just love to stop there on their weekend drives coming from the city of Durban, exploring Natal.

Charmaine remembers so much about the old days in Mtunzini and although times might sound simpler back then, she says that the “new” people in Zini care more.  She finds the community amazingly supportive and people are just so giving.  She would never leave this town and still loves everything about it. This amazing, kind-hearted woman is also actively involved with the Rhino foundation. She loves helping where she can and in her free time, she enjoys art and nature.  Her love for Zini and its people has never wavered.  Living here for 50 years and still walking around with this passion for the town, makes her, of course, a true Mtunzini Legend.