Disability activist raises awareness about accessible parking at Thorn Tree Mall Plaza

Disability activist and wheelchair user Veronica Baloyi noticed a driver misusing an accessible parking bay at the Thorn Tree Mall Plaza in Soshanguve in June. She confronted the driver and was met with arrogance.

“As a wheelchair user, this situation omits my freedom of doing my own shopping. Before I confronted the accused I called up a security guard to ask the lady to move so I could use the parking. She refused. The security guard also didn’t clamp her vehicle, despite a policy note in front of the parking zone stating that ‘anyone without a disability parking will be clamped and fined R250’,” she recalls.

“This regulation is not enforced, and that’s why society tends not to comply with it. After this situation occurred, I tried calling the centre manager of the plaza and explained my frustration, as it is not the first time that this has happened. I realised that the centre manager also doesn’t have the required knowledge about the situation.”

Deciding to run a campaign on the issue to improve awareness, she forwarded her complaint to the Quadpara Association of South Africa (QASA). Her email went viral and reached the City of Tshwane, where the members of the mayoral committee (MMC) and other stakeholders supported her plan for a campaign.

An awareness campaign will be held on November 17 at the Thorn Tree Mall Plaza, and will include numerous stakeholders, MMC, metro police, members of the media, the South Africa Police Service and others.

“The aim of the event is to educate the able-bodied about the issue of accessible parking,” Baloyi concludes.

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