ANC Caucus statement on Airlines\' treatment of the Disabled

31 May 2006

The ANC Caucus expresses dismay at the perpetual mistreatment and harassment of persons with disability and the gross violation of their rights by airline companies.

A number of airline companies are currently appearing before the Parliamentary Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Disabled Persons to account for the callous practices.

The need for the airline companies to account to the Committee was aggravated by the March incident at the Malawi airport in which delegates to the SADC Disability Conference were rudely ordered to disembark the South African Airways aircraft as the airline\'s security policy did not permit more than three disabled person at a time on board.

We have since learned that the Airline has been refusing persons with physical disability, especially those that are wheel chair users, admission to their flights without personal assistants. This practice is unacceptable and condemnable as it effectively means such passengers face a burden of footing double the ticket bill every time they travel.

SAA has since appeared before the committee and its presentation and justification was profusely rejected by all the Committee Members as insensitive to persons with physical disabilities. This flies in the face of the values enshrined in constitution and the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000.

Caucus is extremely disgusted that this callous practice is prevalent in most airlines operating in the country. We are gutted at this flagrant violation of fundamental rights of the disabled community.

We call on all airline companies to refrain from these malicious acts and uphold the humane and legal standards of business practice.