People living with disabilities have equal rights to live without stigmatisation said Dassenhoek resident Lawrence Zwane (29) who walks with crutches.
As the country commemorates the Disability Rights Awareness month from November 3 to December 3, Zwane has called on South African communities to break the stigma attached to disabled people.
He said disabled people often faced barriers to access employment and other opportunities.
“Having a disability doesn’t mean you’re sick, and more companies need to know that. There are people who are deaf but they can work perfectly fine, there are people who are blind but can work as well as anyone if the working environment can accommodate them,” he said.
Zwane’s foot was amputated in 2018, but he said this was never a stumbling block for him.
After completing his matric, he studied basic home-based care and a correspondence computer course.
“My disability has taught me to be strong and brave, and I’ve managed to achieve things that I would not have done otherwise.”
“My inspiration is my mother, Nomusa. I am who I am today because of her. She wasn’t rich but she would make things happen for me. She made sure I had everything I needed at that time.”
In October 2019 he joined the Netcare Sinako learnership programme and started his training in Durban.
He completed his business administration course before being employed, first on contract, then on a permanent basis, at Netcare Medicross in Pinetown.
As the customer care consultant at Medicross Pinetown, Zwane said he enjoyed working with patients and healthcare professionals to provide quality service to every person he interacted with.
He called on companies to provide disabled people with an opportunity to showcase their skills in the workplace.
“People with disabilities are able to make meaningful and great contributions to any organisation, so don’t hold us back. Allow us to add value to your business and allow us to live our true potential in life,” he said.
A survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council in October revealed that 41% of disabled people had challenges in accessing information.
A survey also revealed that, barriers for persons with disabilities in accessing health services and information were intensified as they were not prioritised.