Former Zebras striker, Malepa Bolelang says he is ready to move on following a horrific car accident that left his leg amputated in February this year. He had a chat with Staff Writer CHAKALISA DUBE
A jovial and relaxed Bolelang welcomed Mmegi Sport team for an interview at his home at Block Four in Francistown. Throughout the interview, Bolelang maintains a very friendly face that he often displayed on the pitch during his playing days.
On the day of the freak accident, Chippa, as Bolelang is affectionately known, was celebrating his birthday at a popular drinking spot at Somerset West location when a car ploughed into him, leaving the 2006-2007 Premier League Player of the Season badly injured, resulting in an amputation of his right leg. The former ECCO City Greens forward has since fully recovered following the amputation.
Prior to the accident he had attended Francistown City Greens (formerly ECCO) league clash at the old Francistown Stadium.
Bolelang clearly recalls moments leading to the accident that would change his life forever.
“I was coming out of the bar when the car hit me. Prior to hitting me, the car had smashed another car that was in a parking lot. It then changed direction and headed towards the entrance of the bar. That is when it ploughed into my leg,” reveals Bolelang, who in his prime playing days earned 20 caps for the senior national football team. Bolelang was rushed to the intensive care unit at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital (NRH) where he spent some days. He would later be transferred to a general ward after he was amputated.
There have been strong suggestions that the driver responsible for the accident could have deliberately hit ‘Mr King Goals’, another of Bolelang’s monickers.
It is claimed there was a heated argument before the incident, but Bolelang shares a different version. “I genuinely feel that it was not deliberate. The woman who hit me with a car (and her friends) had a quarrel inside the bar with my friends prior to the accident, but she did not deliberately hit me out of rage as implied by some. It was a mistake. I was not part of the quarrel. I was playing pool at the time (of the quarrel).
“Just like I said the car she was driving lost direction after hitting another vehicle. That is when it ploughed into me as I was leaving the bar,” says Bolelang, who received widespread messages of support following the accident.
Chippa adds that he has long accepted his situation. “Days after the accident I realised that the most important thing would be to quickly accept what has happened to me and adjust as soon as possible.
If a tragedy (like losing a leg) befalls you and you do not accept, it becomes difficult for outsiders to accept you. People have accepted me because I have long accepted myself,” he says.
“Of course I can no longer do other things independently at home or at work like I used to, but I am trying my best to adjust to my current situation.”
Bolelang works for the Botswana Meat Commissioner (BMC) as a boilermaker
The former ECCO marksman highlighted that he only saw the woman responsible for the accident twice while at the hospital, but says they never had a chance to genuinely talk as he was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.
He says that the thought of forgiving the perpetrator has not yet crossed his mind.
“Maybe if she was in contact with me I could be telling you a different story. She has not called or visited me since I was released from hospital. I do not know why she has not bothered to contact or visit me,” he says in a brief response.
According to Bolelang, losing a leg also came with some vital life lessons.
“One of the most notable things I have learnt since my injury is that having a life long partner is important and enriching. My partner (Julia Moseki) has been helpful to me in many ways during these tough and trying times. After what she has done for me I can testify that genuine love exists. I have really learnt to value and appreciate the importance of a woman in a man’s life,” he says with his trademark smile that is usually punctuated with a shy look.
What has also kept the 2005-2006 top goal scorer going during his tough period is the support from his former national team and ECCO team-mates as well as Batswana in general. “I am very humbled by the support they have given me. I can’t believe how much support I’ve gotten. My wish is to see the kind of support I have received being extended to other Batswana who have suffered any form of misfortune. It will really help them quickly recover or effectively deal with their setbacks.”
There is hope that one day Bolelang will soon lead a normal life again. The 36-year-old is currently working on getting a prosthetic leg through the support of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund and his medical aid provider.
“I am not certain as to when I will receive the artificial leg, but I hope it will be soon. Next month I will be meeting a specialist in Gaborone who will determine the kind of artificial leg that is suitable for me,” says the former Coca-Cola Cup finalist.
Bolelang hopes he will cope well with his artificial leg in order to pursue his coaching dream. At the time of his injury he was part of City Greens technical setup.
“Coaching is more about talking than demonstrating hence I do not think that if I pursue it, I will be that disadvantaged.”
He told Mmegi Sport that he is still awaiting police to update him on the investigations with regards to his case.
At the time of going to press, the station commander for Kutlwano Police Neo Serumola said he did not have readily available details about the status of Bolelang’s case.