Who exactly is allowed to park in designated accessible bays? Drivers who use wheelchairs? Passengers who use wheelchairs? People using walkers or crutches? Elderly people who use no walking aids? Visually impaired passengers? Police and emergency vehicles? We have even seen photos published in newspapers of politicians using the accessible bays so that they don't have to walk further than is absolutely necessary!

There are so many different policies when it comes to parking, never mind the many discrepancies regarding legal implications! And where do we go to for clarity on the legal aspects? We had changes in the Road Traffic Act in 2009 that prohibited everyone, other than drivers with a disability, from parking in the designated bays. QASA challenged that as it was passed without any consultation from the Disability Sector. What about parents with children with disabilities? This resulted in the gazetting (29 June 2011) of the following amendment:

Amendment of regulation 305 of the Regulation

11. Regulation 305 of the regulations is amended by the substitution for subregulation (7) of the following subregulation:

"7. No persons other than a disabled person or a driver of a motor vehicle conveying disabled persons, which motor vehicle is issued with a sticker for conveying disabled persons shall park on a parking bay reserved for disabled persons."

Which stickersare acceptable? Discs/stickers issued by ILCs and APDs, after applicants have been assessed by a board? But these are issued via local municipalities and are not valid in other areas! Others just purchase the international wheelchair sign and display it. Until a National Parking Disc is passed, and deemed the only acceptable disc, we shill be constantly disputing our rights.

A quick survey of various malls within the Gauteng area, and civic buildings like the Jo'burg Civic Centre, City Public Library and Jo'burg Zoo, has brought various basic policies to light. Most places have guards who patrol the parking area and monitor the use of the bays - taking much abuse should they try to enforce policies! The ultimate decision becomes theirs and, with limited knowledge of the various aspects of disability and age related conditions, it becomes a constant battle for bona fide users to have access to these bays.

Here are the results of the survey of Eastrand Mall, Moponya Mall, Trade Route Mall, Clearwater Mall and Fourways Mall. Johannesburg Civic Centre, City Library and the Jo'burg Zoo.

  • All have accessible bays near their entrances with guards monitoring them.
  • All say that anyone who displays a disc, who is either elderly, using a walking aid or wheelchair, whether a passenger or driver - is permitted to use the bays.
  • Some have cones blocking the parking, and sometimes one has to drive around to find the guard to have them come and do this.
  • Properties that use wheelclamps as a deterrent, have had legal problems and some have abandoned this method.
  • Some issue their own discs, but all will accept any disc that has the international wheelchair sign displayed.
  • Some issue fines for transgressions. All that do allocate the monies to a charitable organisation within the disability sector or to their own car guard programme.
  • All issues of abuse of the facilities and any conflict arising is dealt with by the Security and Centre managements on the spot.

So, as we await our National Parking Disc, and perhaps a set of parking guidelines to be included within the National Building Regulations, we will just have to 'grin and bear it' and be proactive by taking photo's of offenders and reporting them either to centre management or your local newspapers.