Having lived most of his life indoors or dragging his body around his mother’s yard, a Hammanskraal man finally received his own wheelchair.
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Thabang Makwetla handed over 50 new wheelchairs from the department to physically disabled residents of Hammanskraal yesterday.
One man, Lazarus Maako, 32, said he was born with a disability, but he had never been told what condition he had that had left him paralysed and with a speech defect.
Up until 2013, he said he had spent 26 years of his life indoors, passing time by watching television or crawling around the yard to get some air, leaving calluses and scars on his knees.
His mother was his only carer and she had pushed him in a wheelbarrow if they had to go somewhere, Maako said.
“I was born like this and I don’t know why. I was never told and I have never been to the doctor. I lived with my mother who was the only one who took care of me. I never went anywhere from birth because I did not have a wheelchair.”
His mother died in 2011 and Maako went to live with his older sister. Two years later, his aunt, who also had a physical disability, died, leaving behind her dilapidated wheelchair.
“My sister took it and gave it to me, but it is slightly faulty and the seat is broken. We had to find a cushion and try to repair the seat.”
The new wheelchairs were assembled by correctional service inmates as part of their process of rehabilitation.
The beneficiaries, ranging from the young to the elderly, were also given air pumps to maintain their new wheels.
Makwetla said the donations were part of the department’s campaign of giving back to the community, while educating residents on the role correctional services played in rehabilitating individuals convicted of crimes.
“Let us remind our people to look after those who are struggling to look after themselves.
“We have heeded the call by government to find programmes that are relevant in dealing with poverty in our communities. So far, the department has distributed over 2,000 wheelchairs to disabled people in all provinces except the Northern Cape.”