Engen supported programme a huge success as disabled drivers pass their licences

Engen supported programme a huge success as disabled drivers pass their licences
Ecstatic Zininzi Mpurwana with DEET CEO Thabiso Phetuka

All candidates enrolled on the Eastern Cape Engen and Disability Economic Empowerment Trust (DEET) driver training programme have obtained their learner’s licences, with 20 candidates also successfully passing their driver’s licence test.

Launched in the Eastern Cape in October 2021, the programme assists drivers with disabilities with the skills needed to pass their learner’s and driver’s licenses and thereby boost their prospects in the job market.

For Zininzi Mpurwana, who became paralysed after contracting Tuberculous Meningitis when she was 10 years old, this year’s Valentine’s Day was celebrated by passing her driver’s license with flying colours on 14 February. 

I’m totally over the moon,” comments a thrilled Zininzi, “and I must admit it still feels like a dream but I’m proud of myself and I am really enjoying the independence that driving a car affords me.”

The go-getting East Londoner refuses to let her disability define her, choosing instead to use it to be more creative and content in her daily life.

“On the day I passed my drivers’ licence test, I got home and confidently updated my CV and added a new section that clearly states that I have a drivers’ licence.”

Living by the affirming philosophy that, “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” Zininzi says she is going to use every opportunity available so that she can realise her dreams.

Currently employed by DEET as a supervisor, Zininzi says she feels the world is now her oyster.

“I strongly believe that I have all the skills I need to participate in the open labour market and my future looks bright.”

Engen’s General Manager: Corporate Strategy & Communications, Khalid Latiff extended hearty congratulations to Zininzi and all the other Eastern Cape Drivers who successfully passed their various driving licence tests.

Latiff says the programme’s success can be attributed to the care and guidance provided by the DEET, which ensures that people with disabilities are taken through the full process.

“The programme covers learner’s license preparation and coaching, booking of learners and driver’s licenses, a minimum of 20 hours driving practice with a qualified instructor as well as covering all fees and insurance costs,” adds Latiff.

The driving programme is also currently underway in Limpopo and the Free State, with plans afoot to rollout in Mpumalanga and the Western Cape in the months to come.

“Engen and the DEET have worked together since 2019 on initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of life of persons with disabilities through the equalization of opportunities, poverty reduction, and promotion of social inclusion,” says Latiff.

“The aim is to upskill 20 beneficiaries per province by helping remove barriers to participation and ultimately putting 100 new skilled drivers on the road.”

Engen’s continued commitment to the DEET fulfils South Africa’s ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed in 2007, as well as the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disability that was approved by Cabinet in 2015 as part of domesticating the convention.

“Engen’s drive to support persons with disabilities is not only about upholding the Constitutional principles of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, but also to put tangible measures into place to support developmental interventions, so that people living with disabilities can become inclusive, contributing members of society,” says Latiff.

Disability inclusion is one of Engen’s key social investment focus areas, giving the company the opportunity to contribute towards inclusive disability rights in South Africa.

“As a caring and inclusive company with ‘heart’, this aligns with Engen’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which endeavour to ensure a better and more sustainable future for all,” continues Latiff.

Expressing his gratitude to Engen for their support, DEET CEO Thabiso Phetuka says a driver’s license opens up a host of new career prospects for the unemployed and retired people who still want to work.

“Our partnership with Engen provides hope to job seekers with disabilities and those who aspire to start their own businesses, who might previously have been unsuccessful in securing a position, as a result of not having a driver’s license,” says Phetuka.

Latiff adds that Engen is humbled to play a small part in empowering new motorists and opening new opportunities for them.

“As a company, we are inspired by and support government’s efforts to create a better life for all, and sincerely hope that having driving skills will lead to a self-sufficient, and economically independent future for the people who complete the programme.”