Disabled still fighting to be free

Members of Phambile Bangani VIP, an organisation for disabled people, attended a Freedom Day event held at Khayelitsha Training Centre, on Thursday April 27.

People living with disabilities have accused the government of failing to provide them with critical services and pretending to care about them when they need their votes.

This emerged during a Freedom Day event hosted by Phambile Bangani VIP, an organisation for disabled people, at the Khayelitsha Training Centre, on Thursday April 27.

The organisation accused the government of dragging its feet when dealing with issues relating to their rights. They said it was still an uphill battle for many disabled people to be employed by big companies and described the Dial-A-Ride transport system, which is provided by the government for disabled people, as a nightmare.

Chairperson Mthuthuzeli Dywili told Vukani that there were still many issues that needed to be addressed to change people’s negative perceptions of disabled people.

Mr Dywili said they had decided to use the day to highlight some of their main challenges. And while government had implemented some strategies and planned to address some of their problems, he said, it was not enough.

He said disabled people continued to be victimised by their relatives and community members, emphasising that they wanted to be employed instead of depending on disability grants because they were also capable of doing some of the work that able bodied people did.

He said many buildings were not disabled friendly.

“We have never seen President Jacob Zuma attending any of the national events organised by organisations that advocate for disabled people.

“They only come to us during the elections to tell us about special votes. We are capable of doing any job that able-bodied people can do. We should not be seen as useless people,” he said.

Mr Dywili said they had started the organisation in 2009 after they realised that disabled people in Khayelitsha had no organisation advocating for their rights.

Asked about what Freedom Day meant to him, he said the day should be used to tackle issues such as the huge inequality between the haves and have-nots and improve the quality of education in township schools.

“We are just free to share toilets and malls with white people,” he concluded.

Member of the organisation, Thandi Ntsika, said despite the adversities they were still subjected to, there had been some positive changes. For example, she said, parents were no longer ashamed of their disabled children and gone were days that disabled children were forced not to attend school because they were different from other kids.

She said, however, that a lot still needed to be done.