SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.40 issue1Human rights and workman's compensation: The experiences of two injured workersPromoting human rights: Understanding the barriers to self-help groups for women who are carers of children with disabilities author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

On-line version ISSN 2310-3833
Print version ISSN 0038-2337

S. Afr. j. occup. ther. vol.40 n.1 Pretoria Mar. 2010




Exploring the tensions of sustaining economic empowerment of persons with disabilities through open labour market employment in the Cape Metropole



Madri EngelbrechtI; Theresa LorenzoII

I(MSc Occupational Therapy, UCT); Clinical Educator, Division of Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cape Town
IIBSc OT (wits) MsC Ot (UCT), PhD, (UCT); Disability Studies, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Cape Town





This paper examines the experiences of persons with disabilities (PWDs) who enter and exit employment at a company in the Cape Metropole of the Western Cape Province in South Africa. The aim of the study was to explore the factors which cause PWDs to remain in or leave employment in the open labour market. The literature review will consider the concepts of disability, poverty and economic empowerment. A collective case study was used and in-depth interviews with five disabled employees were analysed to generate categories and sub-categories from the data. Two themes are discussed, namely "I can say I got a home, it's a home to me" and "Disability in the workplace: a double-edged sword". The themes represent findings that revealed that money earned through employment motivated the participants and improved their independence, self-sufficiency and their contribution to society. Simultaneously though, it was found that earning an income caused increased stress for the participants, due to the effects that it had on their eligibility for a disability grant. The paper concludes by giving recommendations concerning economic empowerment of PWDs in the context of the social security grant.

Key words: disability, economic empowerment, employment



“Full text available only in PDF format”




1. United Nations. "The Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for PWDs". 1994. <> (16 April 2005)        [ Links ]

2. United Nations. "UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities." 2006. <> (18 June 2009)        [ Links ]

3. Department of Labour. "Employment Equity Act". 1998. <> (17 March 2005).         [ Links ]

4. Department of Labour. Code of Good Practice on Key Aspects of Disability in the Workplace. Cape Town: Government Publishers, 2001.         [ Links ]

5. Office of the Deputy President. The White Paper on the Integrated National Disability Strategy. Cape Town: Government Publishers, 1997.         [ Links ]

6. Office of the Premier. Integrated Provincial Disability Strategy. Cape Town: Government Publishers, 2002.         [ Links ]

7. Department of Labour. Technical Assistance Guidelines on the Employment of People with Disabilities. Pretoria: Government Publishers, 2003.         [ Links ]

8. Office of the President. Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act. Pretoria: Government Publishers, 2003.         [ Links ]

9. Tiroler G. Learning about the links. CBR News 1995; 21 (99): 4-5.         [ Links ]

10. Lorenzo, T. Equalizing opportunities for occupational engagement: disabled women's stories. In: Watson R and Swartz L, editors. Transformation through occupation. London and Philadelphia: Whurr Publishers, 2004.         [ Links ]

11. Fourie M, Galvaan R and Beeton, H. The impact of poverty: potential lost. In: Watson R and Swartz L, editors. Transformation through occupation. London and Philadelphia: Whurr Publishers, 2004.         [ Links ]

12. Coleridge P Disability, Liberation, and Development. Oxford: Oxfam Publishing, 1993.         [ Links ]

13. Stone E. A complicated struggle: disability, survival and social change in the majority world. In: Priestley M., editor. Disability and the Life Course: Global Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2001.         [ Links ]

14. Department of Social Development. The Social Assistance Act. Government Gazette. Cape Town, 10 June 2004.         [ Links ]

15. Department of Social Development. The Social and Economic Impact of South Africa's Social Security System. Cape Town: Economic Policy Research Institute, 2004.         [ Links ]

16. Oliver M. Disability and participation in the labour market. In: Brown P and Scase R., editors. Poor work: Disadvantage and the division of labour. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1991.         [ Links ]

17. Kitchin R, Shirlow P, Shuttleworth I. On the margins: disabled people's experience of employment in Donegal, West Ireland [1]. Disability & Society 1998; 13(5): 785-806.         [ Links ]

18. Vocational Rehabilitation Task Team. Proposal for an Inter-sectoral Partnership in Vocational Rehabilitation Services in the Western Cape. Unpublished Discussion Document. Cape Town: The Work Assessment Group, 2004.         [ Links ]

19. Department of Labour. Commission for Employment Equity. Annual Report. Pretoria: Government Publishers, 2003.         [ Links ]

20. Engelbrecht M. Understanding the experiences of employees with disabilities in an open labour market setting. Unpublished mini-thesis, Division of Occupational Therapy, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, 2006.         [ Links ]

21. Neath J and Schriner K. Power to people with disabilities: empowerment issues in employment programming. Disability and Society 1998, 13(2): 217-228.         [ Links ]

22. Terre Blanche M and Kelly K. Interpretive methods. In: Terre Blanche M and Kelly K, editors. Research in practice: Applied methods for the social sciences. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press (Pty) Ltd, 1999.         [ Links ]

23. Altitude Workforce Solutions. The Business Plan. Total Quality Management File. Cape Town: The Management Team, 2004.         [ Links ]

24. Altitude Workforce Solutions. Training and Development Policy. Company Policy and Procedure File. Cape Town: Human Resources Department, 2005.         [ Links ]

25. Krefting L. Rigor in Qualitative Research: The Assessment of Trust-worthiness. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 1999; 45(3):214-221.         [ Links ]

26. Howard M. 'An 'interactionist' perspective on barriers and bridges to work for disabled people", 2003. <> (14 June 2006).         [ Links ]

27. Turton N. Welfare benefits and work disincentives. Journal of Mental Health, 2001; (10)3:285-300.         [ Links ]

28. Roessler RT. TWWIIA Initiatives and Work Incentives: Return-to-work Implications. Journal of Rehabilitation, 2002; 68(3):11-15.         [ Links ]



Madri Engelbrecht
Theresa Lorenzo

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License