Demand for sign language and braille in police stations

Gugulethu campaign for better services for people with disabilities

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Photo of people with disabilities in march
People with disabilities marched in Gugulethu this week demanding better services. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

People with disabilities marched to Gugulethu Police Station this week demanding better services.

The march, led by the Gugulethu Disability Development Forum, was part of a campaign to raise awareness about issues faced by people living with disability.

It started on Monday, when people with disabilities marched to KTC day hospital in Nyanga and to Gugulethu Mall. On Wednesday they took the march to Gugulethu police station and Nyanga Junction.

The protesters complained about long queues, poor service and ill-treatment at community health clinics and police stations; housing problems; and difficulties with transport.

Nokuthula Hiti of the Gugulethu Disability Development Forum said people living with disability were not looked after at government institutions, including hospitals where they had to wait in queues.

Hiti said people living with disabilities needed special treatment. “You cannot expect a person walking with crutches to wait in a queue for hours in the early hours in the morning as we do at KTC hospital. After that long queue you go inside and sit on those chairs with no help. When you finally see the doctor, you are told to stand because the beds are high and not accessible to us,” she said.

She said government institutions should hire people living with disabilities or who understood disability. “We are tired of being shouted at when we ask for services,” Hiti said.

Police stations should hire sign language interpreters for deaf people and there should be braille available for blind people, she said.

Monique Johnstone, communications officer for the Western Cape Department of Health, said the forum’s memorandum handed in at the day hospital had been forwarded to her. She said the department would review the memorandum and address the concerns raised.

South African Police Service spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed receipt of a list of demands. She said: “Among others, a demand was raised regarding a lower counter at the station for mobility impaired people. The matter has been raised with Provincial Supply Chain Management, who will intervene urgently in terms of providing a solution.”

TOPICS:  Disability Rights

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

I prefer not to identify myself at this stage. I work for a government department in direct contact with the public. Occasionally, the need for sign language does present itself. The question is how do we as staff gain access to a person that can sign or alternatively can the State invest in training staff to sign?

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