To conclude the Human Rights Month, the Western Cape Departments of Human Settlements and Social Development, together with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), publicly committed their plans to improve Human Rights for people with disabilities and special needs.
The collaboration was announced at a media briefing by Human Settlements Minister, Bonginkosi Madikizela, Social Development Minister, Albert Fritz, SAHRC Commissioner, Chris Nissen and SAHRC Western Cape Chairperson, Advocate Bongani Majola.
The announcement follows outcomes of a meeting held recently between the departments and SAHRC to discuss plans and efforts to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society enjoy access to their rights as citizens.
Minister Madikizela said one of his Department’s three strategic goals specifically focusses 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 said 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,” said Madikizela.
Madikizela added his department has been allocating houses to people with disabilities across the province and believed the partnership will play a huge role in informing building plans to assist the needy.
Social Development Minister Albert Fritz said his department is committed to working with our counter-parts at the Human Settlements Department and the SAHRC.
“Key to this will be our role in consulting all 245 funded Non Profit Organizations (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 Minister 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 3% 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,” said Minister Fritz.
Minister 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,” said Minister Fritz.
He added that in other cases, not having a proper formal dwelling has health and safety risks. The Department of Social Development have 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 Bongani 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 great example that should be adopted by other provinces,” said Majola.