The harrowing story in the news this morning of an alleged mentally
challenged young woman who has been found bound with ropes and held captive
in Eshowe for the past nine months, is unfortunately not an isolated
incident, the IFP said this morning.
"During the public hearings this week on South Africa's progress with regard
to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with
Disabilities, we heard similar heartbreaking and traumatic stories. Our
prayers go out to this young woman and we hope that her story will be a
wake-up call to Government that much more must be done to protect one of the
most vulnerable sections of our society," said Liezl van der Merwe MP, the
IFP's representative on the Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and
People with Disabilities.
Van der Merwe said that while South Africa adopted the UN Convention on the
Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007, some sections of the disabled
community are still denied their basic human rights.
"When you hear distressing stories of deaf people unable to communicate with
a doctor about their illness because state hospitals don't have sign
language interpreters, when you see crying mothers who cannot access
education for their children with Downs Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy, when
you hear of disabled people unable to access justice, and when you hear
about people in wheelchairs foregoing much-needed medical care because they
cannot access transport, it is clear that disabled people are routinely
denied their basic rights enshrined in our Constitution, and we cannot allow
this situation to continue," said van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe said that while the Portfolio Committee will now engage with
the different stakeholders and state departments on these matters, in due
course, it is clear that while strides have been made in the empowerment of
women, drastic steps are necessary to ensure that persons with disabilities
can access and participate in all aspects of life.
"It is clear that if progress is not achieved soon, with regard to the
empowerment of people with disabilities, a Disability Act, which President
Zuma alluded to in the National Assembly on the 14th of September 2011, will
need to be implemented, without delay, to deal with non-compliance and
implementation of the Convention," concluded Van der Merwe.