News & Views: Dear Oscar - here’s how you can still make a difference
An individual opinion of Ari Seirlis
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 recognized in the mainstream.
We want equal employment opportunities, we want to be recognized as contributors to society in South Africa, and we want the opportunity to circulate in accessible transport and building infrastructure. We want to get degrees, diplomas and jobs, we want to have families and to circulate in all environments, I guess jail too if need be.
All part of mainstream 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, were 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. Do your 5 years and excel there where possibilities exist.
Your best service to the disability service would be to sit out the term and sensitize everyone in these facilities about disabilities. Insist on reasonable accommodation and an equitable environment.
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.