No entry for guide dog or blind woman…A visually impaired Windhoek resident wrote:

 

I am so fed-up of my guide dog not being allowed in public places, although I have proof that he is allowed in food-courts and anywhere, by South African law, since Namibia does not actually have laws regarding allowing or denying guide dogs.

Two weeks ago I was asked to leave Game [Stores] in the Grove Mall, because the manager refused me and my dog, knowing that he is my eyes and since I am blind, I cannot go anywhere without him.

That is just after we went for lunch at Spur, also at Grove and asked to sit at one of the outdoor tables, because I didn’t want to take the dog into the restaurant, out of respect for the other customers.

The waitress came to inform me that they had discussed it amongst themselves and the staff had decided that my guide dog and I weren’t allowed at the restaurant, not even outside.

The manager was unaware of this and came to apologise, but this is not the first time I’ve experienced such discrimination. My guide dog is my eyes and is trained not to take food from other people, does not beg, is not aggressive, never barks and is not a threat to anyone, but I am refused everywhere, because of my disability.

A security guard at Maerua Mall told me I had to leave my dog in the car and do shopping without it. He says he’s tired of people like us just doing whatever we want to and when I showed him that I was really blind and that it’s a service dog and he guides me, he couldn’t even bother to apologise, but he could shout obscenities when we asked to speak to his manager.

I do not want to open a can of worms, but refusing me and my guide dog at places is the same as telling someone who’s wheelchair-bound, they should get up and leave their wheelchair at the door, because it’s an inconvenience to others. Where is this country going?

Sad thing is, Namibia doesn’t even really have laws regarding guide dogs, so where do I go from here? I am one of two blind people with a guide dog and yet I feel it’s still not enough reason to be discriminated against. I’m not just taking him along because I want to, but because I cannot go without him.

The irony is, almost everywhere these days, you see boards on shop doors stating: “No dogs allowed, only seeing-eye dogs”, but they refuse me, because they either just don’t want to or they don’t educate their staff properly and every time I am humiliated in public and treated like a criminal.

I just want to do my shopping like everyone else and I just want to go out for meals like every one else and my money is good enough, but I get refused, because no one is clued up and they don’t want to be. They’re not interested in what I have to say, I just get sent away.

The same often happens at Pick and Pay Auas Valley. I also had an encounter, where I got asked to leave Maerua Spur, because the manager didn’t want to allow my dog after we were already seated for about 15 minutes and had already ordered drinks, without anyone even knowing I had my dog there, because he was asleep under the table.

We had to get up and leave and find a different place to have dinner. What is happening to our country? My apology for the lengthy post.

Concerned Reader

Read full story on New Era Newspaper Namibia

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