Saturday, June 21, 2008

200 disabled protesters march in Pretoria, South Africa

From The Independent:

Two hundred protesters, including disabled people and representatives of NGOs, marched in Pretoria on June 19 to urge the government to prioritise the needs of disabled people.

They complained that the recent electricity hike granted to Eskom would hit them hard as many of them supported their families on a R940 disability grant. Marchers handed over a memorandum to Sonto Thipe, the member of mayoral committee responsible for health and social development.

They demanded that 50 percent of all buses and taxis be made accessible for disabled people by January next year.

Organisers said one of the reasons the march started late was because many people had to travel from far using public transport, evidence of their daily struggle.

According to the Tshwane Disability Forum (TDF) there is only one bus in Tshwane that caters for the disabled. TDF deputy chairperson Oupa Maphoto said many disabled people had lost their jobs for being late because the bus transported people from Mamelodi, Soshanguve and Atteridgeville.

They also demanded that the 2 percent target for the employment of disabled people be reached by October.

One other demand was that 10 percent of all houses built by the government be allocated to disabled people.

Thipe said the protesters' demands were valid, but their time-frames were impossible because of the many procedures that had to be followed to implement them.

However, she admitted that the government had been slow in responding to their needs, particularly with regard to the housing issue.

Thipe said the Tshwane Metro Council would respond to the protesters' demands in 14 days.