Council for the Blind thanks Mandela

2010-02-11 11:37

The SA National Council for the Blind thanked former president

Nelson Mandela today for his part in paving the way for the blind to cast their

vote in secret.

“Mr Nelson Mandela also paved the way for blind and partially

sighted people to exercise our full citizenship rights in many ways, including

the exercise of a secret ballot,” said Hazel Marshall, the council’s honorary


“From my own standpoint, I have always felt that voting is a

fitting way to honour the many, from both sides of the political divide, who

lost their lives or became disabled so that we can enjoy freedom.”

The council explained that the April 2009 election was the first to

offer a Braille ballot paper so voters could make their choice in secret.

Users found it to be flawed so a change in design and production of

the template will be put to the Independent Electoral Commission to consider

using for future elections.

The council said it was through Mandela that “all of us can live,

experience and thrive through democracy. This democracy entails the undeniable

right to exercise our full citizenship in this country, a right which is being

addressed within the blind community”.

Mandela has experienced problems with his eyesight following damage

inflicted while he worked, without protective eyewear, in the glare of the

limestone quarries of Robben Island while imprisoned there.

To prevent further damage, it is customary for press photographers

not to use a flash when capturing images of his public engagements.

In the years he was in prison it was a punishable crime to publish

his image, and pictures circulated of him often carried a black strip across his


The world is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release

from prison on today.

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