Opinionista Ari Seirlis 16 October 2014

Dear Oscar – here’s how you can still make a difference

Mr Pistorius, the greatest contribution you can make for those with disabilities will be in prison. So show the country that you are the great man you said you were – take your punishment, and make prison a place where disabilities are well accommodated.

People with disabilities in South Africa – and the formal disability agencies and associations representing this constituency – have been trying, desperately, to be recognised in the mainstream.

We want equal employment opportunities, we want to be recognised as contributors to society in South Africa, we want the opportunity to circulate in accessible transport and building infrastructure. We want to get degrees, diplomas, jobs, promotions; we want to have families.

All part of normal society.

However, when we transgress, and break the law, we must accept the appropriate punishment, too. We do not want special laws for people with disabilities just because one OP killed his girlfriend. And now you, the very same person who bragged about fighting your way into the Olympic arena, which you thought was greater than the Paralympic arena, are desperately trying to find a way of doing community service in the disability sector and community.

You must also show your colours in the correctional services arena. JAIL.

We do not want you doing community service in our sector. You profess to have inspired the disability sector and constituency. A referendum would prove you wrong. Your arrogance has never been embraced by us. Your achievements have only fed your own ego. Your definition of philanthropy is giving away an old pair of Nikes and a scratched pair of Oakleys, mixing with people with disabilities whilst cameras flash; giving away your signature.

You should learn from the greatest philanthropists. Alas, it is too late.

If you want to make a difference for the disability sector, please go to jail and make sure that they provide the necessary reasonable and accessible accommodations for yourself and those with disabilities to follow.

Influence the correctional services authorities on what is required to have basic human rights in prison. No more, no less.

By not serving time in jail, you are ensuring that those facilities, should they not be accessible, will simply remain so.

You are fast, you are agile, you know how to use a weapon – so don’t fear, you will survive. The only difference is that you won’t have a fan club.

Stand up and show us the man that you said you were. Take your punishment, and you will see that South Africans are very forgiving.

You have lots to contemplate behind those bars and, I guess, still plenty of time to make a difference on this earth. DM



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