South Africa

Businesses avoid employing disabled people – DPSA


As South Africa commemorates Workers’ Month, Disabled People SA (DPSA) has nothing to celebrate as most of its members are unemployed, DPSA national chair Patrick Mahlakoane said on Friday.

Mahlakoane said after taking a leadership position in the organisation he had witnessed the private and public sector intentionally avoiding employing disabled people.

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“On several occasions government departments, which I cannot name, contacted me to assist them locate disabled people with qualifications to fill some vacancies. I mobilised the potential employees and submitted their profiles but nothing happened.

“We even created a database and submitted it to many companies and nobody was employed.

“There was a time when people were stopping me on the road and asking for an explanation about the jobs I had promised them.

“To be honest with you, most of our people no longer apply for jobs because they know very well that they will not be employed.

“I was so shocked when the government said 7% of the country’s workforce should be disabled persons. “How can they increase the percentage while they are still failing to meet the initial 2%?”

A well-known disability activist, Dolfred Sihlangu, said he was aware companies were not willing to employ disabled people.

Sihlangu said what made his blood boil was the fact that the authorities were not doing enough to solve the problem.

“We are not being taken seriously by employers. Advertisements state that people with disabilities are welcome to apply for the vacancy, but those people are rarely employed,” said Sihlangu.

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Sihlangu said many disabled people had qualifications but were being sidelined by employers. They were not being treated as equals with their colleagues.

According to Sihlangu, disabled people’s freedom in the workplace still had to be fought for.

“Even though we fought a good fight in terms of the rights of disabled people in general when it comes to workplace-related matters, we still have a long way to go.

“Those who are employed are not protected by the unions in most cases. They have to fight for themselves.”

Teboho Thejane of the department of employment and labour encouraged disabled people to report unfair treatment.

“It is important for employers to treat all workers according to law, including the disabled. Worker rights are human rights,” he said.