Sheltered employment factories under investigation

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Disabled people looking to be economically active might finally get their chance when a Labour Department investigation into sheltered employment factories (SEF) starts yielding results.

In a speech to parliament's portfolio committee yesterday, Labour Department director-general Vanguard Mkosana said that the department would be conducting the investigation with the view to introduce a new management framework for the factories, which employ disabled people.

"Some of the issues raised under the SEF by the auditor- general [last year] have been resolved and others are in the process of being dealt with," Mkosana said.

Disabled People of South Africa field officer Bulelwa Mbolekwa said: "The government is very good at making documents, but it fails to implement anything, especially when it comes to disabled people."

According to the Census 2001, more than 2,2 million people in South Africa live with various forms of disability - 5percent of the total population.

"Last year the government promised to ensure that 2percent of disabled people would be employed by 2009," Mbolekwa said.

Currently only 1100 disabled people are employed in seven of the country's nine provinces, less than 0,05 percent of disabled South Africans.

Labour Department spokes-man Zolisa Sigabi said that the tendency of SEF to cater for white people in urban areas would be included in the investigation.

"Where gaps are noted, skilled staff will be appointed in line with the employment equity plan," she said.

Sister Gabrielle Riddle, administrator of the Ikhwezi Lokusa Rehabilitation and Sheltered Employment Workshop in Mthatha, said the government is not fulfilling its promises.

"I have 64 people here at any given time. The government has been promising since 1998 to provide subsidies for all of them, but we only get enough for 30," she said. - with I-Net Bridge