This week the world observed the International Day of Disabled Persons, but unfortunately, it didn’t get much press coverage.

The UN proclaimed day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

This year’s theme is focused on empowering persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”.

The MEC of Social Development, Albert Fritz, has shared the moving story of Thembakazi Yaso, to commemorate the day, and as part of National Disability Rights Awareness Month.

“Thembakazi Yaso lost her mobility when she was paralysed by spinal tuberculous in 2009. Because her home was not accessible to her surrounding community, she spent most of her days interacting with the world through radio and social media only. For a long time, she struggled to come to terms with her disability and only posted pictures of her head and shoulders on social media, cropping out her wheelchair.

One day, Thembakazi contacted a radio presenter and shared her story. The presenter then put her in touch with a Western Cape Department of Social Development social worker, Ncikazi Nyoka.

Like Thembakazi, Nyoka also had a disability. However, unlike Thembakazi, she was mobile, very involved in her community, and able to get around using her wheelchair, special access ramps and an adapted car.

Ncikazi inspired Thembakazi, taking her on a journey which would help her come to terms with her disability. Since their meeting, Thembakazi has started a social work learnership, and she’s also become more involved in her community.

Thembakazi has been inspired to support other individuals who do not enjoy their fullest life due to a lack of mobility and accessibility.”

Fritz says his Department is doing its best to play an enabling role in the provision of services to people with disabilities as it has almost doubled its budget for the ‘Services to Persons with Disabilities’ sub-programme in the last five years, from R86 million in the 2013/14 financial year to R169.7 million in 2018/19.

Many of us take our mobility for granted. It’s good to know that there is support available for persons with disabilities, so they can live life to the fullest.

Watch Thembakazi’s story here: (video link)

If you or someone you know has a disability that affects day-to-day living, call the Department on 0800 220 250 or visit for more information.


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Liesl Smit – News Manager, Smile 90.4FM News