At the end of October 2013, during members’ statements in the National Assembly, the IFP raised the matter of three students who had been denied entry to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) because they are blind.
The long-held dreams of Avukile Jeke (21), Lubabalo Sapepa (21) and Yanelisa Ginida (19) were shattered.
At the time, I took up their plight in Parliament and called on the SA Human Rights Commission to investigate and for the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Lulu Xingwana, to intervene. Minister Xingwana’s unresponsive reply in Parliament was that “if things are too hot in the kitchen”, I should get out.
Despite this disconcerting response, however, it seems the Chief Whip of the ANC, Mr Stone Sizani, realised the gravity of the matter, as the three students have now been granted access to NMMU.
The IFP wishes to thank the Vice Chancellor of the University who reversed the decision to deny them entry.
The IFP calls on NMMU to urgently upgrade their facilities to accommodate people with disabilities, and we hope that these blind students will be given the support they need to make a success of their studies.
We wish the three students all the best. People with disabilities deserve dignity, respect and support. Our citizens should never be denied their constitutional right to education or have their dreams to further their studies shattered because of their disabilities. It is our duty, as public representatives and political parties at large, to fight on their behalf.
Ms Liezl van der Merwe MP
IFP spokesperson on Women, Children and People with Disabilities
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