Store’s wheel­chair ban ‘un­ac­cept­able’

Taranaki Daily News - - National News - Danielle Clent

An Auck­land busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion says a shop owner kick­ing a man out of his store for be­ing in a wheel­chair is ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able.

Im­tiaz Aziz was shop­ping in O¯ ta¯ huhu, South Auck­land, with his sis­ter on Tues­day morn­ing when he went into Bes Mart to look at T-shirts.

Aziz said the male shop owner walked over to him, pointed to­wards the door and asked him to leave.

He was left feel­ing em­bar­rassed and sad­dened by the ordeal and made a com­plaint to the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

O¯ ta¯huhu town man­ager Richette Rodger con­demned the shop owner’s de­ci­sion to kick out Aziz. Al­though it has not as yet, the as­so­ci­a­tion and its board de­cided they would make ver­bal and writ­ten con­tact with the own­ers.

Rodger said they would tell the shop own­ers that their ac­tions were ‘‘ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able’’.

‘‘It’s not by any means the cus­tomer ser­vice we ex­pect out of our busi­nesses for our town cen­tre,’’ Rodger said.

‘‘It’s not the rep­u­ta­tion we want, [that we are] fight­ing to get, for our town.’’

Rodger said the busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion had shared the story on its Face­book page and pub­licly apol­o­gised to Aziz on be­half of O¯ ta¯ huhu.

‘‘[We] also just re­it­er­ated to ev­ery­body on so­cial me­dia that we don’t con­done that and we don’t in any way think that was good be­hav­iour. It’s dis­gust­ing.’’

Rodger said she had never come across any­thing sim­i­lar in the past but over­crowd­ing of shops was ‘‘def­i­nitely’’ an is­sue.

‘‘It’s an is­sue that we reg­u­larly work with coun­cil and the fire de­part­ment with in re­gards to over­crowd­ing of shops for the dis­abled, but also just for peo­ple with pushchairs, any­body.’’

CCS Dis­abil­ity Ac­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive David Matthews said the in­ci­dent showed an ‘‘ap­palling at­ti­tude’’ from one hu­man be­ing to an­other.

He said it was a hu­man right for peo­ple to be able to ac­cess stores in their com­mu­nity and get around them.

Matthews said Aziz had been treated ‘‘very, very badly’’ and it was sur­pris­ing that ‘‘some­one run­ning a com­mer­cial busi­ness would be happy to ex­clude peo­ple in wheel­chairs and peo­ple with other mo­bil­ity aids’’.

The shop own­ers said on Wed­nes­day, through an­other staff mem­ber who trans­lated, they had asked Aziz to leave be­cause his wheel­chair was ‘‘too big’’ for their store.

An­other wheel­chair user had stolen from their shop re­cently and the fe­male shop owner ‘‘doesn’t want those peo­ple to come’’, the staff mem­ber said.

Im­tiaz Aziz, with his sis­ter Fa­reen Nisha, was told to leave a store in Auck­land.

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