Accident Victim Thanks NSSA For Tale Of Hope, Restoration Of Livelihood


WHAT started off as a routine work trip along the Shurugwi-Zvishavane road in 2014 was to be a defining moment for an experienced mine driver.

The winding and treacherous Boterekwa mountain pass was to be the set of the tragedy that gave birth to the tale of hope that 40-year-old Tavengwa Sawanje now lives to tell.

It is a story of restoration in the wake of trials and tribulations following a horrific road traffic accident.

Sawanje was employed as a driver at Surprise Mine owned by Turnoff Investments in the small mining town of Shurugwi, Midlands province.

The accident survivor narrated to NewsAnchor, the events leading to the crash that left him wheel-chair bound and needing expert help to salvage himself from being a "cabbage", literally a person dependent on others for everything, including some bodily functions.

He narrated: "l was working for a mine in Shurugwi when l was tasked to use a low-bed lorry to ferry an excavator to Zvishavane.

"As l got to the steep descent at Boterekwa, l tried to overtake another haulage truck going in the same direction. I later realised there was an oncoming commuter omnibus and tried to apply brakes to avoid a head-on collision."

Added Sawanje: "The brakes were loose and l stared death as a head-on was inevitable, as the other truck was speeding alongside mine. I then decided to plunge my truck to the right side to avoid hitting either the truck or kombi which l believed had many passengers."

Sawanje's HOWO truck was extensively damaged in the accident that left him seriously injured.

In the crash, Sawanje's left leg was ripped off at the scene, while he sustained life-threatening injuries to the spinal cord.

This was a time Sawanje's life changed forever, having to cope with disability.

He further narrated: "l spent eight months admitted in the intensive care unit at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare. After recovering, l was referred to Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre, where l spent a further three months. I had lost a leg and had a brace on my neck and was just there, numb.

"This is when it dawned on me l was now disabled and had to cope, but l was hurting inside to see myself in this helpless situation. I contemplated suicide."

His wife, 29-year-old Fungisai Karamba admitted she was on the verge of abandoning her husband.

"I didn't see any future as he was literally sitting there in the wheelchair and showed no signs he could recover to live a purposeful life. 

To be honest, l wanted to leave him," Karamba told NewsAnchor in an interview.

Sawanje was to spend a gruelling two years of soul-searching at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Rehabilitation Centre in Bulawayo, where he received therapy while also learning new life skills to eke out a living.

The rehabilitation services offered at the NSSA rehab enabled Sawanje restore some functions to his upper torso, including use of his hands.

He can single-handedly operate the motorised wheelchair he was allocated by NSSA, which has made mobility much easier.

Following his discharge from rehab and armed with life skills, Sawanje who is a NSSA beneficiary, used part of his monthly stipend from the Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation scheme to set up a thriving business enterprise, which is now talk of the Vanad community of Mutorashanga in Mashonaland West province.

Sawanje bought a corn snacks (maputi) manufacturing machine and packs the product for sale to the Vanad community and beyond.

He also started an animal husbandry project that has seen him rare a brood of over 40 goats.

Besides being able to pay his two minor children's school fees using proceeds from the projects, the father of two is now in a position to satisfy his young wife's luxury needs as she deserves pampering for sticking with him.

"My wife gave me hope and showed me what love really means. I also owe my life and livelihood to NSSA which helped in my rehabilitation and starting these projects which are now my source of livelihood.

"I urge all employers and employees to embrace the NSSA scheme because it helps in times of tragedies and when one is incapacitated through injury at the workplace. It happened to me when l was at my prime and when l least expected it, this can happen to you," warned Sawanje.

NSSA administers the Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme (POBS) and the Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation scheme, which is funded by employers. 

The scheme was set up, and is administered in terms of Statutory Instrument 68 of 1990.

Among some of its objectives, the Accident and Workers Compensation plan seeks to provide rehabilitation services to disabled employees inorder to lessen the impact of impairment, and where possible prepare them for useful and purposeful existence in society.

PICTURES: (TOP) Sawanje and his wife pose for photo in front of a consignment of corn snacks (maputi) 
(BOTTOM) The machine used in the manufacturing of corn snacks 

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