CemAir gets backlash for requesting disabled client to pay for wheelchair assistance

DJ Kabila, also known as Siyanda Makhanya, deejaying at an event. Picture: Instagram

DJ Kabila, also known as Siyanda Makhanya, deejaying at an event. Picture: Instagram

Published Oct 19, 2022


South African musician, DJ Kabila, also known as Siyanda Makhanya, has opened up on his experience flying with CemAir as a person living with a disability.

Makhanya posted a video on Twitter expressing his frustration at Fly CemAir requesting him to pay an extra fee for using wheelchair assistance or a passenger aid unit (PAU) as he was checking in for his flight.

The incident occurred last Tuesday, October 11, as Makhanya had booked a flight online, travelling from King Shaka International Airport in Durban to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

According to Makhanya, Fly CemAir requested him to pay a fee of R564 for him to be assisted to board his flight.

Makhanya revealed that this was not the first time that he has flown with Fly CemAir and that he paid the same amount previously regardless of him having notified the airline of his special needs prior to flying.

He said that a PAU is free of charge when flying with other airlines and that he also submits a Special Assistance Request Form with other airlines.

“It makes me feel discriminated against as someone who didn’t put themselves in this position. It shows that we don’t have any space allocated for us in this society, ” said Makhanya.

South African Twitter users and industry mates, most notably Zakes Bantwini and Black Coffee, rallied in support of DJ Kabila.

“This can't be it @FlyCemAir,” said Black Coffee while Zakes Bantwini commented: “@FlyCemAir you can do better, ppl who live with disabilities can not be subjected to this 💔”.

Although CemAir did refund DJ Kabila, the matter has left a sour taste in his mouth.

“It’s not about the refund but the inconvenience they cause customers like me,” said Makhanya.

CemAir has been contacted for comment.

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