Wheelchair-user fined over disabled parking

Lee-Anne Butler

A PORT Elizabeth woman was shocked when the security company at a major shopping centre fined her and her elderly aunt – who is a wheelchair user – R300 for parking in a bay for the disabled.

Majeedah Levack, of Humewood, said she was with her uncle, Dr Edgar Antezana, and aunt, Ana Antezana, who is paralysed as a result of brain cancer, at The Bridge Shopping Centre when the incident occurred on Saturday.

The centre management said yesterday they made it an obligation to protect customers who had made the effort to acquire a disabled parking ticket for their vehicles from unauthorised users, whether they were wheelchair users or not.

Levack said while their vehicle did not have the necessary disabled parking sticker, she had shown a car guard who approached her that her aunt was in a wheelchair before entering the facility.

She said he responded “Oh cool” before he walked away.

“About an hour later we returned and found the R300 fine. I called the car guard and asked who put it on the car and he directed me to Omega Security in the centre.”

Levack said she then tried to negotiate with the Omega Security employee.

“I told him I saw other vehicles parked in disabled bays alongside us, one was a sports car and another was a woman with a pram, and they did not have disabled discs either. He said he had run out of fines and thus could not fine them.”

The Bridge Shopping Centre marketing manager Sonica van der Meulen said Omega Risk Solutions had peace officers at the centre appointed by the municipality to issue fines to unauthorised vehicles.

“The procedure from the traffic department is that a new [fine] book can only be issued once the last fine in the [previous] book has been used … the owner of the vehicle was informed that the last fine in the book was issued and the peace officer was for this reason unable to issue fines to other transgressors.”

She said peace officers did not have the authority to make an exception to the law.

The director of the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities in Nelson Mandela Bay, Brian Bezuidenhout, said the situation was a difficult one and the car guard did not have the expertise or authority to make the decision to allow the vehicle to be parked there.

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