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Date: 15 May 2012
Title: Police challenged to take part in disability programmes
By Gabi Khumalo
Pretoria - Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, has challenged police officials and those working within the justice system to take part in disability programmes to help increase the conviction rate of people abusing those with disabilities.
Xingwana stressed the importance of police learning sign language, noting that when people using sign language go to police stations to report cases of rape and abuse, they are not properly assisted.
"All of us - the Departments of Social Development, Police, Justice -- must make sure we do [our best] to [secure] the convictions by taking part in programmes to assist prosecutors to ensure they produce credible evidence to ensure conviction.
"For the police and justice system, we need extensive training to handle such cases, especially for women with intellectual disability ... We still have a huge load and lot of work still needs to be done," Xingwana said.
Xingwana, who was speaking at the National Disability Machinery (NDM) meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday, acknowledged that there was still a lack of places of safety for abused children, and that special schools had many challenges which needed to be addressed.
This included a shortage of accommodation, where parents were forced to stop working so that they can look after their disabled children because they have no place at a special school.
The two-day meeting will look into the strengthening and restructuring of the NDM, which was approved in 2007.
Among other things, the meeting will reflect on the objectives of the NDM in line with the mandate of the department.
Issues for discussion will include the role and mandate of the department and how the department collaborates with other government departments in fulfilling its mandate.
In addition, the meeting will reflect on expectations around the purpose, role and responsibilities of the NDM. This will include clarifying intra-departmental as well as inter-governmental institutional arrangements responsible for driving the national disability agenda across all three spheres of government.
The objectives of the NDM are to facilitate the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Millennium Development Goals and the Africa Decade of Persons with Disabilities within the South African context; and to provide a platform for multi-stakeholder engagement across disciplines and sectors on the national disability agenda.
The role of the NDM, among others, is to identify and make recommendations on new initiatives that should be undertaken and facilitate participation in those programmes in the disability sector. - BuaNews