Disability activist wants justice after wheelchair badly damaged on BA flight

Award-winning disability activist Eddie Ndopu has taken to social media to call out Comair Limited for damaging his wheelchair during a flight and having a discriminatory claims policy.

Read: South African plans to be first disabled person to travel to space

Comair is the aviation company that operates the domestic routes of British Airways in South Africa.

Ndopu was recently on a return trip from Johannesburg to Durban to give a keynote address on disability inclusion.

On his journey back, Ndopu says his state of the art wheelchair was broken in two.

The backrest of the wheelchair unhinged from the frame and the armrests on both sides were chipped.

He says the power chair cost £12000, which is roughly equivalent to R215 000.

Also read: Woman in wheelchair booted off flight shows ongoing injustices, says law prof

When he laid his complaint, a Comair supervisor told him that disabled passengers are liable for whatever happens to their wheelchairs, regardless of whether or not the airline is in the wrong.

Ndopu says he has not yet received no confirmation that a case has been opened.

However, he says a Comair official called him on Thursday to apologise and assure him that they will look into the matter.

Ndopu says he wants a public apology and for Comair to replace his wheelchair.

He also wants Comair to revise its claims policy, which he says is in direct contravention of the right to freedom of movement.

It was absolutely shocking.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

The irony of it all is that I was invited by the World Bank to give a keynote about disability inclusion as we wrap up Disability Rights Awareness Month in South Africa.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

Upon my return from Durban to Johannesburg, I found my wheelchair in two pieces.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

The entire backrest of the wheelchair was completely unhinged and ripped off from the frame and the armrests on both sides were chipped.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

Since this has happened, I have received over 100 messages on social media of disabled travellers telling me that this has happened to them and that they are scared to travel.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

As a person with a disability, I rely on my wheelchair. These are my legs and when they are damaged or injured, it has ramifications on my day-to-day living.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

What is being said, implicitly, is that we as disable people are at fault for daring to travel. We are being penalised fo rwnating to have lives.

Eddie Ndopu, disability activist

Listen to him recount his experience on The Pippa Hudson Show:

Image: Eddie Ndopu on Twitter.


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