PEOPLE with disabilities marched through the streets of Gugulethu on Monday to raise awareness of their plight before handing memorandums at the township’s hospital and Gugulethu Mall.
Led by Gugulethu Disability Development Forum (GDDF), the marchers gathered at Vukuhambe Home for the Disabled, where prayers were held in support of Disabilty Rights Awareness Month from November 3 to December 3.
The protesters, most of them in wheelchairs, carried protest banners and placards.
Tension ran high when the staff at Gugulethu Community Health Centre refused the marchers entry, saying the march was not approved.
Ward 38 councillor Luvuyo Zondani, who uses crutches, was outraged. “We do not have time to waste. We cannot just leave our homes and come here without notifying the management. Open this gate so we can do what we came to do,” he said.
Ward 41 councillor Sharon Manata echoed, saying: “The march was approved. This shows that people with disabilities are not treated well, even in hospitals where they are supposed to be taken care of.
"This ill-treatment starts here from this gate. We are refused entry and it is always like this in this hospital This place brings misery instead of joy for the disabled.”
GDDF events co-ordinator Nandi Mxobo said the centre was unfriendly towards people with disabilities.
“Sleeping beds are too high and this hospital is making it impossible for a disabled person to get on top without being helped.”
GDDF convener Nomonde Mbembe said Gugulethu Mall was inaccessible.
“We don’t enjoy sitting at KFC and Hungry Lion like other people. There are no chairs for us in those food outlets. In banks, they ask for permission from the people to let someone in a wheelchair in. How is that fair?” she said.
Gugulethu Community Heath Centre staffer Phakamani Magano promised to forward grievances to the manager, who was not available. Gugulethu Mall centre manager Reginald Bunton said he would talk to shop managers to see how the disabled could be accommodated.