Students must embrace Bill of Rights – Zak Yacoob
A Barrier Free University was the theme of a recent public lecture delivered at UKZN by Mr Justice Zak Yacoob who discussed disability, human rights and the Constitution.
The lecture was hosted by the Office of Student Services (Disability Unit) in partnership with Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) and Differential Abled Student’s Association (DASA) as part of its awareness drive to create a university environment which supports students who face physical challenges through physical amenities and social understanding.
Yacoob, who became blind when he was 16 months old as a result of meningitis, said: ‘Very often, we as people are our own oppressors because our societal values are not equated to our Constitution which sees us all the same. Inequality is not because of government, but because we fail to see each other as equals.
‘All students should have the Bill of Rights, embrace and understand it for themselves and others. The struggle in society is for everyone, we all aspire for the same quality of life and should help each other achieve it.’
The forum was introduced by Executive Director Student Services, Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, who encouraged the UKZN community to join hands in solidarity to provide a wide network of support for disabled students. ‘There are 485 students with physical challenges at UKZN. Issues of disabilities are issues of human rights. Therefore, we must work together to ensure a barrier free UKZN.’
Mr Silomo Khumalo, an LLB student at UKZN who is also blind, was at the lecture. He offered the following advice: ‘Look for ways in which challenges can be overcome rather than reasons why they cannot.’
Khumalo was in Grade 8 when he first learned about retired Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob. ‘When I realised there was someone out there like me who was a constitutional judge, I understood then that I could be anything that I wanted to be. It was a great feeling, and I was inspired to be like him.’