Disabled woman finds new way to dish out lip

2015-12-21 19:34

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Cape Town – A disabled woman, fed up with the abuse of parking bays reserved for people with disabilities, has found a new way to dish out lip service to guilty motorists.

Bookkeeper Mandy Martin, 43, found herself at Canal Walk shopping centre in Cape Town on Saturday, waiting in the disabled parking area for her son to pick her up after 10 hours of navigating the packed mall in her wheelchair.

"Some people started parking in the disabled bays. They get out of their cars and you notice they are not disabled at all. They had the audacity to park there without thinking of the consequences," she told News24 on Monday.

Frustrated, she dug up an old peach-tinted lipstick from her bag and handed it to a friend who was with her.

Her friend used it to write on their windscreens: "You are not disabled". 

Some bystanders apparently congratulated them for taking action against the abuse of disabled parking bays.

'They get quite rude'

By leaving a message, she said people would realise there was someone who cared enough to take action.

"I didn't vandalise any cars. I was making them aware that they are not disabled and when they sit behind that steering wheel my message is staring straight at them, something they cannot ignore."

A video showed that the cars in question did not have disabled permits hanging from the windscreen.

Municipalities used different criteria when issuing permits for the disabled parking bays.

These parking bays were often near a building entrance, and wider, so that there was enough space to enter and exit from vehicles.

"I used to ask security guards to clamp their wheels, but I have just given up. You first have to find them and they normally ask a hundred questions."

Approaching the culprits often resulted in verbal abuse. 

"I have approached people before and they say, 'What has it got to do with you?' When I tell them I need the space, they get quite rude.”

Martin was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when she was 19. 

The condition was discovered after she went to a doctor with a netball injury. She said the news didn’t "feel real" at that stage.

"He said I would be in a wheelchair in five years’ time. I had no idea what he was talking about and we didn’t have internet then."

'Show me respect'

The disease progressively weakened her muscles and she struggled to walk or run.

"I was stubborn and tried to walk for as long as possible because independence is extremely important to me. That privilege was taken from me and now I've been confined to a wheelchair for just over a year and for the rest of my life."

It hurt when people ignored her in the wheelchair and directed questions to her son.

She wanted people to know she was not "invisible".

"I just want people to acknowledge that wheelchair users are normal people and they are also intelligent. Speak to me directly and show me respect."

Read more on:    cape town  |  health

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