Accessibility of the services of the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) to people living with various disabilities will be of paramount importance going forward, Public Protector Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka said on Wednesday, 13 December 2023.
Speaking in Cape Town, during the PPSA stakeholder engagement event focusing on various interest groups focusing on people living with various forms of disability in the Western Cape, Adv. Gcaleka said she is committed at improving the services and accessibility of the institution she leads to all that live within the boundaries of this country.
Adv. Gcaleka indicated that the PPSA was in the process of self-correcting to align its services with the needs of those living with varying forms of disability. To that effect, she said, the PPSA was in the process of converting its information material into among others Braille, audio to cater for the blind and SMS complaint system for ease of complaint lodging. Reports and other materials, will also be printed in the specific formats to ensure that they were easily accessible to those with limited capabilities.
The PPSA website will in future, also be adapted to ensure that it is user-friendly and, in the process, enable accessibility of information and PPSA services.
She told delegates representing various interest groups who packed the conference room at the Athlone stadium and others on the virtual platform, that the need to unlearn and re-learn how to cater for the people living with disabilities across society was an important task that all, in particular public service, had to undertake. She called on the sector to walk the journey with everyone and provide guidance on how they can be best assisted.
Adv. Gcaleka acknowledged the frustration displayed by the sector at the slow rate of ensuring that systems and others were re-designed to cater for people living with various forms of disabilities.
Among the complaints that were raised sharply, was the lack of care and general accommodation of specific needs for people living with disabilities. One visually impaired complainant told the gathering about how she was denied an employment opportunity despite being shortlisted because the environment, she alleged, could not cater for her needs.
Others complained of RDP houses that are not fit for purpose and in some instances not even delivered despite years of applying and being on the waiting list. Transport that was also not tailor-made for the needs of people living with disabilities, was also brought forward as one of the major issues facing the sector.
The engagement was part of a dialogue the PPSA is holding with its interest groups focusing on people with disabilities across the country. A similar session was held in KwaZulu-Natal in November. Other provinces will follow in the New Year.
The sessions will culminate in a report with a binding remedial action directed at various role players within the state to act on issues raised with the PPSA by the sector. It is scheduled to be made public by the end of March 2024.
Source: Public Protector South Africa