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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Western Cape, SAHRC join forces to improve disabled people’s lives

31 March 2017

 The announcement followed the outcomes of a meeting held recently between provincial departments and the SAHRC.

The Western Cape Departments of Human Settlements and Social Development, together with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) had on Thursday announced a commitment to their plans to improve human rights for people with disabilities and special needs, at a media briefing held in Cape Town.
According to a statement, the collaboration was announced in conclusion of the Human Rights Month by Human Settlements MEC, Bonginkosi Madikizela, Social Development MEC, Albert Fritz, SAHRC Commissioner, Chris Nissen and SAHRC Western Cape Chairperson, Advocate Bongani Majola.

The announcement followed the outcomes of a meeting held recently between the departments and SAHRC to discuss plans and efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable in society enjoy access to their rights as citizens.

Madikizela said one of his department’s three strategic goals specifically focused on “Prioritising the most vulnerable beneficiaries”.

He said it was very important for his department to commit to a working relationship with others and formalise partnership. He further said that his department was passionate about assisting the most deserving, especially the elderly and people with disabilities.

“Elderly and people with disabilities must be prioritised by the government. It is high time we formalise a working relationship and structure a plan we must follow to assist people with disabilities,” he said.

Madikizela said that his department has been allocating houses to people with disabilities across the province and believed the partnership will play a huge role in forming building plans to assist the needy.

Department of Social Development MEC, Albert Fritz said his department was committed to working with its counterparts at the Human Settlements Department and the SAHRC.

“Key to this will be our role in consulting all 245 funded Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) working with people with disabilities, on issues of housing for the disabled community. In this regard, and as part of our broader NPO consultations, DSD has already set aside R3-million for the 2017/18 financial year for a comprehensive sectoral engagement process with all of our 2000+ funded NPO partners,” said Fritz.

“The 2011 Census confirmed the need for greater housing for people with disabilities, as households headed by persons with disabilities living in formal dwellings were about three percent lower than those headed by persons without disabilities. The role of DSD does not end once a family living with a disabled person finds a home. Statistics show that such households tend to be poorer.

“Households headed by persons without disabilities have a higher proportion of goods owned, compared to households headed by persons with disabilities.”

Fritz added that during oversight visits across the province, he has observed first-hand the increased need for housing opportunities for disabled people.

“A recent case was in Mfuleni, where a 10-year-old autistic boy lives with and is cared for by a single mother. The mother is not able to work due to the high care needs of her child. The landlords she rents from have evicted her based on the fact that the child is considered a ‘nuisance’. There are many families in this situation,” Fritz said.

He added that in other cases, not having a proper formal dwelling had health and safety risks. DSD had cases of disabled children living in informal settlements being attacked by vermin (rats) due to their immobility from a physical disability.

“In other incidents, people with disability are at greater risk when there is a fire in an informal settlement, like the recent one in Imizamo Yethu”.

Advocate Majola congratulated the two departments on their efforts to work with partners to retain people’s dignity.

“We are dealing with many cases where people are living in unacceptable conditions in the society. This initiative and collaboration is greatly welcomed. This is a great example that should be adopted by other provinces,” said Majola.

-African News Agency

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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