Attacks on Lofob residents a concern

League of the Friends of the Blind (Lofob) in Grassy Park.

The League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) in Grassy Park is outraged after yet another blind person fell prey to crime last week.

A 20-year-old Lofob resident was threatened with a knife, held at gunpoint and stripped of his personal belongings, which included a pair of low vision spectacles used to aid his reduced vision, after attending night school in the area on Tuesday February 26.

Colonel Dawood Laing, station commander for Grassy Park police, said the man was robbed of his cap, glasses and shoes between 8.30pm and 8.45pm in Lotus River.

Heidi Volkwijn, manager of services for youth and adults at Lofob, said the young man was not physically harmed but was left shaken.

“When he panicked he almost ran into an oncoming car. Fortunately someone picked him up and brought him to Lofob.”

Ms Volkwyijn said the sad part of the incident was that the visually impaired man was trained to walk freely but is unable to do so.

“A study by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention released in 2009 indicated that 47% of crime impacting on youth happens at school, and that many feared travelling to and from school. This too is the experience of blind and visually impaired youth who wish to practice their freedom of choice to move about freely and independently in their community.”

Dr Armand Bam, executive director of Lofob, said, “As an organisation advocating for the independence and integration of blind people into society, Lofob is gravely concerned about the increase in crime in the community as blind people’s safety is in jeopardy.

“This results in blind people leaning toward the use of metered taxis which is often unaffordable since many are dependent on state social grants.

“Dial-A-Ride, the local government subsidised transport service for persons with disabilities, is unpopular among our clients we serve as many are rejected due to the service mainly catering for persons with physical and multiple disabilities and our clients are considered mobile due to their training in orientation and mobility.”

He said it is not ideal for blind people to have to resort to expensive and inaccessible transport services. “Our wish is for safer communities where blind people can practice the independence gained through orientation and mobility training.”

Ms Volkwijn thanked Grassy Park police for being “very efficient and very empathetic” in helping the young man.

However, she was not aware that the young man did not open a case with police. She said she would encourage him to do so as soon as possible.

Ms Volkwijn said an eye care shop will help the victim replace his spectacles.