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

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South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

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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