Challenge changes mindsets

2015-04-29 06:00

MANY people with disabilities say with time they have learnt to live with their disability, but what really makes their life difficult is that society still lacks the understanding and patience these people need. In anticipation of the staging of In Blood, a musical with a cast made up of performers with various disabilities at the Sand du Plessis Theatre in Bloemfontein from 14 to 16 May, Express

spoke to four individuals with various disabilities to learn more about their everyday lives.

Natus van Niekerk (40), who suffers from cerebral palsy, says he has made peace with his situation and is making the best of his life. He says his brain was starved of oxygen when he was born and because of this his father wanted to sue the hospital, but his mother convinced him otherwise and rather asked that their energy be channelled into making life as “normal” as possible for him.

“I attended school until gr. 10 at the Martie du Plessis School and my mother organised regular physiotherapy sessions for me and that really helped me to be somewhat independent,” says Natus.

For Natus’s wife, Charmaine, a former staff nurse, life did not start out as that of a person with a disability.

“I was independent for 17 years until I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I suddenly had to find other ways of doing everyday things,” she says.

Charmaine, who runs a copy and fax shop, says the biggest challenge she and others like her face, is changing people’s mindsets about those with disabilities.

Soft-spoken Dikeledi Shupinyaneng is a quadriplegic who suffered her fate in 1989 at the hands of her then boyfriend while they were both still in high school.

The 51-year-old says coming to terms with her condition was very difficult at first, but since she had learnt to accept her situation, the quality of her life has dramatically improved.

“When I was still able to walk, I never thought I would be here, but I guess life had other ideas, but like I said, I have learnt to accept my fate and life is just fine for me,” she says.

Welkom-born Leon van Wyk also suffers from cerebral palsy and says doing everyday things can sometimes be frustrating because people do not have the understanding and patience needed to see him live a normal life. Van Wyk, who speaks with difficulty due to the cerebral palsy, lived a normal life even securing work as a plumber and working with his father before he passed away.

“Visiting my siblings (five siblings, none of whom are disabled) is virtually impossible because the public transport system simply does not cater for people like me,” the die-hard Kaizer Chiefs supporter says.

Natus, Charmaine, Dikeledi and Leon will be special guests at one of the performances of In Blood.

Tickets cost R120, with a concession of R100 for early bookings and pensioners, R60 for group bookings of ten or more people and students. Booking is through the Pacofs Box Office (office hours). The duration of the show is two hours including a 20-minute interval. A preview performance of In Blood will be given on 13 May at 18:00 (admission free). The public opening is on Thursday, 14 May, at 19:30. A schools performance will be held on Friday, 15 May, at 11:00, with a final performance on Saturday, 16 May, at 19:30.

For more information, log onto, e-mail Bukelwa Cakata at or, or call Ndileka Santi on 073-426-1049.

) To win yourself a ticket to the In Blood performance, SMS the keyword “Blood”, your name and surname and answer to 45527 before midday on Thursday (30/04). Winners will be contacted telephonically. An SMS costs R1,50.

) Question: When will the final performance of In Blood be staged in Bloemfontein?

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

How much food do you need to concentrate?

We have been taught that we need three meals a day in order to make it through the day and while most of us indulge in more than our fair share there is a large portion of South Africans who are living off barely enough to sustain them.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.