29-year-old Zandile Nhlapo has not let cerebral palsy get in the way of achieving her dream of becoming a star South African athlete. Zandile, who has already represented South Africa at the 2012 Paralympics in London, won a gold medal for the javelin event at this year’s National Championships for the Physically Disabled, which took place in Stellenbosch recently. Zandile now has her eyes firmly set on the year 2016 when she hopes to once again represent South Africa at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Zandile, a data capturer at Netcare Mulbarton Hospital’s billings department, has cerebral palsy, a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination typically caused by damage to the brain before or during birth. Her lower limbs are particularly affected and she finds it a challenge to run, walk long distances or climb up and down stairs.
Commenting on her remarkable achievement, Zandile humbly says that besides causing her difficulties in walking and running, her disability does not make life more difficult for her than any other person. “I have learnt to accept my condition and not let it impact my life in a negative way,” she says.
Zandile began playing sport in high school and quickly developed a love for athletics. In 2001, she began competing in international competitions, participating in javelin, shot put and cycling events. “My goal is to become a top South African athlete with many sponsors,” she says.
“We at Netcare would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Zandile on her wonderful achievements and wish her all the best for her future sporting endeavours,” says Peter Warrener, Netcare’s group human resources director. “We believe that people with disabilities have just as much of a contribution to make in all facets of life and have spent significant time and effort in attempting to ensure that Netcare is a place of work where anyone can feel that they are contributing in a meaningful way” he adds.
Netcare’s efforts to ensure that people with disabilities like Zandile get a fair chance to participate in South Africa’s mainstream economy were recognised at this year’s Oliver Empowerment Awards held in April, where the group received the Diversity Award for its commitment to creating an equal and diverse workforce. Netcare was also praised by the Director General of the Department of Labour, in the 2014 Commission Employment Equity Report for its ‘hands-on’ approach in implementing an employment equity plan that includes strategies aimed at training and employing people with disabilities.
Netcare’s strategies include the introduction of phases 1 and 2 of the group’s Sinako Project in 2012 and 2013 respectively. The Sinako Project aims to assist unemployed individuals with disabilities to become more employable. Structured internships and learnerships provide them with training to develop the technical skills that will afford them equal opportunities in the workplace.
“Our commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workforce is showing positive results. The number of employees with disabilities within the Netcare group has increased to 2.26% in 2013, which exceeds the 2% national target. However we realise that there is still more that can be done in order to reach an equitable society in which the economic contribution of people with disabilities is appropriately used and recognised,” concludes Warrener.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Mulbarton Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Sarah Beswick or Jillian Penaluna
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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