Windhoek-As the plight of people with disabilities intensifies, the Social Security Commission (SSC) remains committed to assist through their special disability benefits, fulfilling its mandate under the Employees Compensation Act which resulted in disability payments exceeding N$8 million being paid over the past five years.
One such person who has benefited is Cecil Katire, who in 2004 was injured while on duty working for TransNamib as a railway construction worker.
Katire lost his leg when a crane fell on his leg and he spent over a month in hospital.
SSC came to his rescue and covered his entire hospital bills and bought him a prosthetic leg.
Apart from that, he has been receiving a monthly pay-out of N$700 every month in compensation.
“The SSC changed my life – I was scared I would not be able to manage with my hospital bills but they covered everything. I am very grateful,” Katire says.
Current figures show that over 300 disabled persons are receiving disability benefits from the SSC, with 73 employed by the government and 221 by private companies as the country last week commemorated National Disability Day in Nkurenkuru, Kavango West Region, under the theme ‘Take action and implement disability monitoring report.’
In the past, persons with disabilities were highly dependent on old-age pensions as a source of income, followed by wages and salaries while only 33 percent of people living with disabilities received disability grants from the government.
According to the National Disability Council head of Department in Research and Development, Tjiueza Tjombumbi, the plight of people with disabilities is improving as organisations such as the SSC comes to their plight.
He said the community and the nation at large are realising the value of people with disabilities in society and how they need to take part in decision-making.
“There needs to be improvement especially in the education sector. People with disabilities are part of society therefore they should be involved on different platforms and various committees so as [for others] to hear their aspirations,” he said.
Statistics released by the Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) last year indicated over four percent (98,000) of the Namibian population is living with one or more disabilities, with Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango and Oshikoto recording the highest numbers.
The SSC Employee Compensation Act provides for the payment of benefits on a generous scale to an employee injured as a result of an accident arising out of and in the course of his/her employment, with over N$1.7 million paid annually by the SSC.
According to SSC manager: communications and marketing, Unomengi Kauapirura, compensation is paid in respect of temporary disablement, permanent disablement (according to the degree of disablement) and death.
“Reasonable medical expenses are payable if further medical or surgical treatment may reduce the extent of the disablement,” she said.
Liability for the payment of benefits under the Act vests in the Accident Fund and only covers employees whose employers are registered, but in the event of a compensable accident to an employee in the service of an employer who has not registered, the Commission may impose on the employer a penalty not exceeding the total cost of the accident.