19 November 2013
At the end of October 2013, during members'
statements in the National Assembly, the IFP raised the matter
of three students who had been denied entry to the Nelson
Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) because they are blind.
The long-held dreams of Avukile Jeke (21),
Lubabalo Sapepa (21) and Yanelisa Ginida (19) were shattered.
At the time, I took up their plight in
Parliament and called on the SA Human Rights Commission to
investigate and for the Minister of Women, Children and People
with Disabilities, Ms Lulu Xingwana, to intervene. Minister
Xingwana's unresponsive reply in Parliament was that "if things
are too hot in the kitchen", I should get out.
Despite this disconcerting response, however,
it seems the Chief Whip of the ANC, Mr Stone Sizani, realised
the gravity of the matter, as the three students have now been
granted access to NMMU.
The IFP wishes to thank the Vice Chancellor of
the University who reversed the decision to deny them entry.
The IFP calls on NMMU to urgently upgrade
their facilities to accommodate people with disabilities, and we
hope that these blind students will be given the support they
need to make a success of their studies.
We wish the three students all the best.
People with disabilities deserve dignity, respect and support.
Our citizens should never be denied their constitutional right
to education or have their dreams to further their studies
shattered because of their disabilities. It is our duty, as
public representatives and political parties at large, to fight
on their behalf.
Ms Liezl van der Merwe MP,
spokesperson on Women, Children and People with Disabilities.
Mr Phendulani Biyase, IFP media
officer, on 073 024 5675.