No ramp for disabled police worker

2008-07-25 00:00

Durban — A disabled woman’s kidneys have been affected as a result of the jolting she has to endure in her wheelchair up and down steps because there is no ramp for the disabled at the Brighton Beach police station, where she has been working for the past six months.

Chanelle Strijdom (36), a data processor in the police station’s firearms unit, says the absence of a ramp for the disabled contravenes the provisions of the Constitution.

Strijdom is cerebrally handicapped as a result of having had meningitis as a baby. The disease has deprived her of the full use of her hands and confined her to a wheelchair. But, says Strijdom, there is nothing wrong with her brain. She obtained her matric, did a diploma course that qualified her as a computer operator and is now studying psychology and criminology through Unisa.

She has been employed in the police force for 15 years, and until the beginning of this year, was stationed at the central firearms registry and alcohol council’s office in Pretoria.

Strijdom requested a transfer to Durban because she has “always wanted to live near the sea and gain more experience in the firearms section at station level”.

Strijdom says the former station commander at Brighton Beach assured her concerned parents that the police station was wheelchair-friendly, and then, when they saw it wasn’t, apparently said the ramp would be constructed soon.

But these undertakings are now being denied, says Strijdom, and there are plans afoot to transfer her to Wentworth police station, which is wheelchair-friendly.

However, Wentworth is three times further from where she lives.

At first she tolerated the pain of the jolting over the steps, but her health steadily deteriorated until a doctor booked her off on sick leave two weeks ago. The doctor also recommended in a letter that a ramp be constructed as soon as possible.

According to police spokesman Senior Superintendent Jay Naicker, large-scale upgrading is being done at the police station, which will include a ramp, but he could not say with certainty when the work would be completed. Naicker said that Senior Superintendent Johan du Toit, the station commander at the time, told the family from the outset that the police station was not wheelchair-friendly.

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