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?

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