South Africa: Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Andries Nel On Access to Justice for Persons With Disability

press release

Mbomblela Municipality, Mpumalanga. Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Andries Nel, said that:

"The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is working hard to ensure that it removes barriers faced by persons with disabilities so that they can enjoy access to justice."

He pointed out that according to the United Nations over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world's population, live with some form of disability.

Deputy Minister Nel was amongst the ministers, deputy ministers, accompanying President Jacob Zuma to the official wrap up of the National Disability Rights Awareness Month at the Bergvlam Hoërskool in Nelspruit, Mbombela in Mpumalanga.

Nel said that, "In Mpumalanga province there is a total of 37 courts. Of these 17 courts have completed phase 1 accessibility, meaning they have a ramp, grab rails, signage, and toilets for people with disabilities. A further 8 courts are in phase 2 accessibility, meaning that the court rooms themselves have been converted, as well as service points in the court building such as cash halls and holding cells. A total of 21 courts have disabled friendly parking facilities. The department has prioritised 12 courts for both phase 1 and phase 2 accessibility during the 2013/14 financial year.

In addition, lifts for people with disability have been installed at Magistrate Courts at Nelspruit, Witbank, and Middelburg. Two sign language interpreters have also been employed. Justice material is also being produced in braille. Recently, during child protection week in June 1500 booklets explaining the Domestic Violence Act were distributed."

He underlined the importance of working together to achieve the goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - to eliminate discrimination and exclusion, and to create societies that value diversity and inclusion.

Nel said that nationally the department was engaged in a R10 million programme to increase physical accessibility to courts and that R3 million had been allocated for producing information brochures in Braille. Plans were also afoot to remedy the shortage of sign-language interpreters by working with organisations such as DeafSA.

Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

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