The Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport held an outreach programme at the Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind in Thaba Nchu.
As the country has been celebrating Women’s Month, the aim of the gathering was to address challenges faced by the community of persons with special needs, tackling the challenge of sign language, which is a barrier for fair justice to deaf and blind victims.
Diphapang Molai from Greater Thaba Nchu Rural Youth Development told Bloemfontein Courant, “We, as the community of the deaf and blind as well as people with albinism, are faced with a lot of challenges. We are easy victims of crime. When we report crime at our local police stations there is communication gap because the police don’t understand sign language. Most of the time victims commit suicide, so we want to ask government to place people who know proper sign language at police stations so that the criminals will be put to book.”
Bukelwa Qwelane, director of education, said that since 2015 the department has made sign language an official subject at deaf and blind schools, so this year the sign language grade 12 learners will be writing sign language as their home language in all 21 schools in the country. “This is history in the making,” he added. – Lebakeng Nkabi