Our Footprint – Impact Assessment
Natalie Johnson

As we start 2024, we have 92 members – serving 84,642 beneficiaries through our members

A few examples of people who we have successfully assisted since 2018 to present:

  • During lockdown: we managed to obtain a donation of R10,000.00 worth of food split into R5,000.00 each for two member organisations who were both extremely grateful for this donation.
  • During lockdown: we were able to secure a meeting with Head of Dept at Dept of Health to discuss health care related challenges faced by the disability sector during the COVID-19 lockdown. Our engagement with him which he said came at a very opportune time and gave very useful insights into the challenges faced by the disability sector which he and his team were not necessarily aware of and said it would definitely help in assisting him and his team in future.
  • Disability Accessibility of the Artscape Theatre Complex: After many meetings and discussions with the Provincial Dept of Transport and Public Works (owner of all Provincial Government Infrastructure and who own the Artscape Theatre Complex) we were instrumental in making the Artscape Theatre Complex more accessible to people with disabilities. Phase 1 focused on wheelchair users. Phase 2 focused on the visually impaired and Phase 3 focused on the hearing impaired (which has just recently been completed)
  • Submissions to Parliament – various Submissions were sent to Parliament to influence changes to various legislation: The Disaster Management Act; the Employment Equity (EE) Amendment Act amongst others
  • Dial-A-Ride – when services were suspended in 2021 we spoke up for our members who are Users of the service and we continue to speak up whenever there are challenges relating to the service provided.
  • PRASA – we continue trying to engage PRASA Western Cape Management regarding the inaccessibility of the trains and railway stations (engagement started in 2019)
  • In 2021 the IEC approached us to assist with making their services and voting stations more accessible to people with disabilities.
  • 2021 – SARS Taxpayer Engagement Western Cape (Senior Manager) requested assistance with making services more accessible to disability sector (specifically Deaf, deaf and Hard of Hearing)
  • Mr L – a person with visual impairment applied for Special Needs Housing in 2008, reapplied in 2011 was constantly given the run around by City of Cape Town Officials. He contacted our office in October 2020 to assist with this challenge. With our intervention finally moved into his own house in May 2021.
  • Access to medical care and services by quadriplegic (stretcher bound and unable to  access dental and health services) ourCo-ordinator assisted bed-ridden resident of Plumstead who was struggling to get assistance with suitable transportation to a medical facility for medical attention. Matter was eventually escalated to the Manager of Healthcare in Plumstead after the Network went through the offices of MEC Social Development and Head of Health in Western Cape. The resident finally received the medical attention he needed and family was extremely grateful for the assistance of the Network. Our Co-ordinator was thanked by Director: Southern Western Substructure, Metro Health Services for drawing this to the attention of the Department of Health
  • Request for information about our organisation received from the office of the Premier of Limpopo: Director: Special Programmes (Disability Rights Co-ordinating Unit) wanting to start a similar structure in their Province
  • Network PRASA Accessibility Media Awareness Campaign: Took place Fri 29 April 2022. A ride on the EMU #PeoplesTrain #BlueTrain from Cape Town to Heathfield Station and back. This resulted in a number of radio interviews and drew a great amount of attention and engagement on our Facebook page.
  • DSD Sanitary Dignity Project led by MEC Dept Social Development – we found a number of our member Organisations were excluded from this project and managed to get them included on the list of beneficiaries of this project.
  • Letter to President Ramaphosa re: Minister Gwede Mantashe’s public comment with regard to people of short stature – referred to them as “Dwarfs”
  • SASSA Grant Recipients – successfully intervened on behalf of Grant Recipients facing challenges like access to home visits, reapplying for Grants stopped etc
  • Objection submitted: Proposed Rezoning and Site Development at Westlake Shopping Centre (proposed reduction of disability accessible parking bays)
  • Disability Policy of WP Rugby at stadium challenged
  • City of Cape Town Application for Disability Parking Permit – revised wording provided for consideration and inclusion
  • Challenged SASSA Assessment of Disability
  • Challenged proposed Refurbishment of Muizenberg Beachfront in terms of disability accessibility
  • City of Cape Town Urban Mobility Transversal Forum (to discuss accessibility matters of Western Cape) – instrumental in pushing for this Forum to be established
  • SA Human Rights Council (SAHRC) – provided recommendations for improvements to be made to their Disability Toolkit
  • SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) – participated in discussions around their Disability Awareness Checklist
  • Referral request received: 9-year-old boy with mental and physical disabilities. Parents both Disability Grant Recipients – grandmother sought assistance with getting therapy for the boy and also placement in a suitable facility
  • Request from Tygerberg Hospice: SASSA Grant: Male paralysed from neck down unable to apply for SASSA Grant due to not having a bank account.  Network asked to intervene.
  • Homeless person (wheelchair user) at shopping centre in Observatory needing placement in residential facility (same case referred to us by a different person in 2023) – case still active. Still waiting for action from City of Cape Town
  • Story of Jerome: Severely disabled, only child of indigent (single) mother was admitted to Mitchells Plain District Hospital first week in December 2023 and was sent home again after a few days. At palliative stage left without pain management meds by DoH. Sent home for mom to care for on her own. He ended up with very bad bedsores. Mom unable to manage bedsores and his pain – Network Intervention: Got DoH to do home visit. They evaluated the situation and tried to have him admitted for wound care at Aquarius Health Care – a convalescent facility in Mitchells Plain. While transport arrangements were being made for him he unfortunately passed away on Sun 21 Jan 2024

Image: Group of wheelchair users who was part of the Western Cape Network on Disabillity trip on the #EMU train to prove it’s inaccessibility. We travelled from Cape Town Station to Heathfield Station and back.

Examples of assistance via our Legal Advice Help Desk:

  • Case referred by SADA – alleged discrimination by Furniture supplier
  • CCMA Case (Gauteng based) alleged discrimination by CCMA – referred back to client
  • Contractual dispute (around payment) PwD on Leanership with one company headhunted by another company. Accepted second offer so original (signed contract) not honoured.
  • Learnership (Services SETA) – complaint against Training Provider not able to provide Certificate of Competence (Training Provider not registered with relevant SETA)
  • Case of Discrimination at UNISA – complaint about Student not being allowed sufficient time to complete exam
  • SADA Referral: Discrimination by Body Corporate (case for Community Schemes Ombud) – referred back to Complainant to exhaust other avenues first before we can provide Legal Opinion
  • Mother of 3 unable to claim from Late Fiancé’s Estate for disabled children. Referred to Attorney who would consider taking case but found two options of possible Legal Representation so matter was left with Complainant.
  • Disabled lady living in Wesbank (referred by Beneficiary of member organisation) . back neighbour is or has been convicted of numerous crimes including rape, assault, amongst others. Threatening lady and because of her vulnerability she needs assistance. More information was requested before we can assist with Legal Opinion.
  • SADA Referral: University student (22 years old) Invisible disabilities not accommodated at University
  • Referral from Oasis Assoc: Intellectual Disability caused by Doctor (Malpractice Attorney required) – referred back to Social Worker
  • Referral by WC APD: Family Responsibility Leave (22-year old son) unable to be left alone
  • Training Provider advertised themselves as being an Accredited Training Provider but SETA has no record of them
  • Question received: Is Autism recognized as a disability in terms of the Employment Equity Act (EEA)?
Image: Pink Protea on grey wooden table


We asked the questions we asked in our Strategic Planning session and this was the response from a non-member (member of the public who contacts us regularly – she also runs a disability Organisation herself):

If the Western Cape Network on Disability closed down:

• How will this affect you personally?

I will have no resources that I can trust . I know Western Cape Network on Disability always tries to improve the lives of people with disabilities. They keep me up to date with all new rules and laws

How will it benefit you if we closed down?

It won’t benefit me at all as it will just be another disappointment.

• Who will suffer the most from us closing down?

People with disabilities as well as their families who rely on this organisation’s services and advocacy.

• What should we stop doing? What don’t we do well and should stop?

To be honest I don’t think there is anything that you had not done humanly possible to educate and improve the lives of people with disabilities.

• What should we start doing?  What don’t we do that we should be doing?

This is a difficult question to answer because Natalie is always available and really goes beyond the line of duty to assist. She does things that the organisation had never maybe assisted with before, but that don’t stop her. She will always say “give me time to find out the best way to assist” in a matter, and true to her word she will always come back with a good option or two to solve the problem.

• What do we do well and what should we do more of? What do we do well?

What you do well is advocate, speaking for those who can’t speak for themselves. It is just a pity not a lot of the people at grassroots level (Cape flats) know about this organisation. But what I should say is Natalie Johnson is a name people know and respect within our sector. I can say that with honesty because I had seen what Natalie had been capable of over a lot of years and never has she disappointed. She is the go-to person for not just me but for so many people. And I will continue to recommend her and Western Cape Network to my community.

Our government has failed our sector and they will continue to fail us, should Western Cape Network on Disability close this service we will have nowhere to turn to. We need this service in order for us to know there is a place we can turn to.