One of my pet hates is people who only think of of their own convenience regardless of those around them.
The worse of that kind are the Disabled Parking Thieves. Yes it’s those socially disabled people who think can have the right to park in a space reserved for the physically disabled.
Kimberley resident, Dorothy-Anne Howitson, from the Northern Cape chapter of the Association of Persons with Disabilities tells of an incident when a friend took her to the North Cape Mall.
“It was very crowded with shoppers,” Howitson said. “Sadly all the special parking bays reserved for persons with mobility impairments (these bays are 3.5 metres compared to the normal bay of 2.5 metres so that people using wheelchairs, walkers, callipers and leg prostheses have the required additional space) had been taken by people who did not have any disabilities.”
Howitson pointed out that the most unbelievable was the reaction of complex manager, Louwtije Bruwer.
“He just looked at the vehicles that were parked in the disabled bay, none of which were displaying the special disabled signs, and said nothing. When I asked him where all the security guards were, he also did not know.”
Howitson took several photographs of vehicles parked in various disabled bays in the mall’s shopping complex. The driver of one of the vehicles came out of the complex carrying a case of beer.
The owner of a Mercedes Benz, which was parking at another bay, was sitting in a nearby restaurant. When he was approached, he said that his companion, who was eating with him, was disabled. Howitson pointed out to him that he needed a special disc which had to be displayed on his vehicle.
“He was extremely rude and aggressive. A bit later when I came out of the mall with the manager, he was walking with his companion, who showed no signs of any disability.”
Two 4×4 vehicles were parked at another disabled bay situated right at the entrance to the mall. The one vehicle was parked half-in and half-out of the bay, thereby obstructing the ramp leading into the mall.
“The bakkies were parked in such a manner that a person in a wheelchair or someone using a walker could not get access to the ramp leading into the shopping centre. I don’t know if this is a display of arrogance, selfishness or just a case of ‘to hell with anyone else’.”
Howitson pointed out that the current rule with regard to parking for persons with disabilities (gazetted in July 1996) stated that a person with a disability could apply to the traffic department for a parking permit, after the necessary form has been completed by a medical practitioner and the Association of People with Disabilities.
“The permit allows the person with a disability to park on any reserved parking bay (whether as driver or as passenger) for the full duration of their business. At all times of using the bay, the parking permit must be clearly visible from the front window of the vehicle.”
Howitson added that while the traffic law was silent on parking bays in malls, if the owners gave the traffic department permission to fine trespassers (this must be clearly visible), they may do so.
“The blatant disregard of the right of persons with disabilities can no longer continue. Too many people just abuse and ignore facilities provided for persons with disabilities. Surely we also may have a place in the sun. If the municipality and mall managers just worked together, we can solve this problem.”
When approached by the DFA North Cape Mall manager, Bruwer, said yesterday that the abuse of disabled parking was often a problem since offenders become verbally abusive and aggressive when asked to move their vehicles.
“I have had numerous incidents where we have actually called the police and opened up cases against offenders, especially for verbal abuse.”
Mr Bruwer stated that wheel clamps had been ordered from Cape Town and the next step would be to clamp the wheels of offenders’ vehicles.
“We have already had the necessary signs made warning people that if they park in no parking areas, their wheels will be clamped and they will have to pay a fine of R250 to get them released. We are just waiting for the clamps, which we ordered at the end of September already, to arrive.”
“We do have four security guards on duty 24/7 but they cannot just watch the disabled parking areas. They have to patrol and provide security throughout the mall to ensure a safe shopping experience for all our customers. We hope though that installing a system of clamping vehicles will go a long way towards resolving this problem.”
If you spot Disabled Parking Thieves in Kimberley, take a pick and forward to the Kimberley Webpage for publishing.