Woman relives 'bulldozer' mishap

FRANCISTOWN: When Lebogang Lewate got employment as a labourer at China Jiangxi International - the company constructing the Nata-Sepako road, little did she realise that tragedy would soon strike.

Lewate was recently involved in a freak accident that has left her with no right leg, after being run over by a speeding front-loader.
Some three weeks later, Lewate still cannot come to terms with the fact that she has lost her lower limb. According to her, the whole thing feels like a recurring nightmare, which she wishes could quickly go away.

It was on a Monday morning on October 11, 2010 when 25-year-old Lewate from Mmadinare village in the Bobirwa Sub-District met her fate - one that is likely to change her lifestyle and condemn her to disability.

The once cheerful, hardworking mother-of-one is now confined to the hospital bed at Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital because of the tragic accident that has led to the amputation of her right leg, a dislocated hip and ugly scars on her lower body.

Lewate's face becomes sullen as she relates how she survived the traumatic accident with her other colleague. "We had just reported for work in the morning at around 7:30 with my other colleague when the accident happened.

"We went to the workshop to get some tools and while there, we decided to call the JCB (front loader vehicle) so that it could help us load some equipment. When the JCB came, I realised that it was coming towards us and at high speed. The driver of the JCB was supposed to reduce speed to allow us time to move out of the way but didn't do that. So the JCB ended up knocking me down with its fork-like loader while my colleague escaped, leaving me trapped underneath," Lewate says tearfully.

She says she was the only one struck and seriously injured in the accident.

"I had fallen to the ground and immediately realised that my leg was broken because even though I could not feel much pain I could not stand up," Lewate says.

She says some of her colleagues later took her to the hospital. Much to her shock her leg had been crushed that the doctors (surgeons) recommended that she undergoes amputation.

Lewate says at the time, she did not even know how to react. "Everything seemed to happen so fast that I thought I was dreaming."
Following the amputation, Lewate spent close to three weeks in Nyangabgwe Hospital before being transferred to Mahalapye on Wednesday.

She says all this time that she has been in agony, the front loader driver has only come to visit her once.

"My employers and other colleagues are the ones who regularly come here," she says.

Lewate says although she would adapt to her new life, she would be faced with a lot of challenges. She will no longer be able to fend for her five-year-old daughter like before.

"I just hope that my employers will compensate me for this accident because it happened while I was on duty," she says.

Despite being worried about the future of her child, Lewate's fear is that she would be crippled and consigned to a wheelchair.

"Mo botshelong jwame ke ne ke sa akanye gore ka tsatsi lengwe ke tlile go nna segole (In my life I never thought that I would be lame)," she says dejectedly.

Lewate's aunt, Rebecca Seeletso who spoke on behalf of the family at the hospital, believes that with encouragement and support, Lewate will be able to accept her new situation.

She also indicates that it is a good thing that the employers and workers of China Jiangxi International are showing some support to Lewate, as they have been coming to visit her.

She, however, expresses disappointment at  the  hospital staff for not communicating with them about Lewate's condition. "We are just kept in the dark about her condition. Even her transfer to Mahalapye was never communicated to us," she says.

In fact the transfer will complicate matters for the family because they will be unable to visit her there.

"We will have to spend more money on transport and we don't have accommodation in Mahalapye," Seeletso points out.

Seeletso is more concerned with Lewate's condition though. "She experiences chest pains and that worries us.  It seems the doctors are only concerned with her legs and they tend to forget that she might have internal injuries," she says.

Seeletso says she wants to see Lewate being compensated so she can continue to lead her normal life like before.

Nyangabgwe Hospital public relations officer Caiphus Gabana confirmed that Lewate has been taken to the Orthopaedic Centre in Mahalapye. He, however, said he did not know if she would be sent back to Nyangabgwe Hospital.

"What normally happens is that the patient would be returned back to be cared for here," he said.

Meanwhile, the investigating officer in Lewate's accident, Sergeant Modisaotsile Moabanyane says they have not laid any charges yet against the driver of the front-loader.  "We cannot lay any charges while the victim is still in hospital because, what if it happens that she dies? We have to wait for her to recover so that we can lay an appropriate charge," he says.

Editor's Comment
A Call For Government To Save Jobs

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