Disabled protest at lack of access to stadiums

  • March 18, 2010
  • Bruce Bromley

SA DISABILITY Alliance (Sada) members burnt tyres at SA Football Association (Safa) House, south of Johannesburg, yesterday in protest against the lack of accessibility of 2010 World Cup stadiums to people with disabilities.

“We burnt tyres because they are our mobility, but they cannot get us into stadiums,” said Sada executive Ari Seirlis.

Security guards extinguished three burning wheelchair tyres, while protesters chanted and waved placards. “LOC (Local Organising Committee) let us down,” read a placard.

Another read: “Stadia no accessible for disabled, no legacy for us.”

Seirlis said the alliance was not burning tyres because it was fashionable, but because it showed the pain of the disabled at not being able to attend any of the 2010 World Cup matches.

“We want to be there but the stadiums are not ready to accommodate us,” he said.

About 100 members of Sada sang liberation songs as they rolled their wheelchairs from the parking bays opposite Safa house to the entrance, where a memorandum of demands was handed over to local organising committee chief executive officer Danny Jordaan.

Accepting the memorandum, Jordaan said he would meet with the leadership of Sada on March 31 to discuss issues raised.

He said only three stadiums were not accessible to the disabled and that while people in wheelchairs had to buy tickets, the people pushing the wheelchairs did not.

“We care about you,” said Jordaan, explaining that there was a memorandum of understanding signed between Sada and the LOC.

“If there are issues, we need to sit down and talk them out,” Jordaan said.

Sada has demanded that the LOC ensure a safe and equitable environment for all spectators with disabilities, including at fan park facilities.

It also wants an accessible transport plan approved and implemented by all host cities.

Sada chairperson Musi Nkosi said that during the Confederation Cup, transport from park and ride sites was not accessible to people with disabilities, with no facilities for deaf spectators and no communication services. Before leaving, the protesters eyed out the Soccer City stadium, designed in the form of a calabash, which will host the opening march of the tournament between Bafana Bafana and Mexico on June 11.