Parents and children with disabilities say access to sport is among the many challenges they face.
As part of the Human Rights Day celebrations last Wednesday, March 21, people with disabilities from Gugulethu were able to enjoy a range of sports at the Gugulethu sports complex, with local teams offering a helping hand.
Most of the disabled people said they were still yearning for more support. Speakers said disabled people have been battling for recognition in sport and did not enjoy the same rights as able-bodied people.
Thozi Mciki, manager from Vuk’uhambe Self Help Association, said they organised the day to show that disabled people also have rights and could do anything.
He said as much as the day was about celebrating fallen heroes and heroines, it was also about giving disabled people an opportunity show their talent.
Mr Mciki said there were still less opportunities for disabled people in the country. He criticised those who saw disabled people as being inferior.
“We value this day as it shows we have rights too. There are still people who do not know that we also have feelings. They think we cannot fall in love, we cannot play sport and we cannot do what most people do. That is wrong. What is more important is the person rather than how one looks or if they are in a wheelchair or can’t speak properly.
“We all have the responsibility to protect human rights including disabled people’s.”
Mr Mciki called on able-bodied people to stop being ignorant and to play sport with them.
He said there is a need to develop disabled people too when it comes to sport.
Founder of the Nkunzi Organisation for the Disabled, Oscar Tokwana, lashed out at parents who left their disabled children at home and attended the event alone.
He said he knew that many parents that attended the event left their children behind because they thought they were an embarrassment.
“Do not hide your disabled people under the bed or tie them in the toilet because you do not want them to be seen. Parents should allow their disabled children to play with others. I know most parents have today left them at home. You will find out some have tied them in bed. This is bad for the nation. They are people too. They have rights too,” he said.
Organisations and churches did not escape his words.
He said he left the church because it was preaching one thing but doing the opposite. “They had no ramps for disabled people like me. There was no sign language. They showed no care for the disabled people. People need to know that disability rights are human rights too,” he said.
Gugulethu resident Nobuntu Namntu commended the disabled people for organising the games.
She said people should stop pitying them. “I have all the respect for them. They did not sit and expect somebody to give them something to do. They have shown that they are able to do things by themselves,” she said.