On Saturday, October 4th 2014, Karebo Maragelo stood outside a tavern in Ikageng. He had just finished writing a semester test and was celebrating.
'I couldn't feel anything'
He saw a black BMW 650i parked in front of him. Three women were taking pictures of the car and got in. Then something went wrong.
People were yelling, people were screaming, people were pleading for assistance. He saw one of the girls running away. He looked down and saw the boot of the BMW beneath him where his right leg should have been.
“Everybody was helping me… pushing. I didn’t hurt, I couldn’t feel anything,” he recalls. Not yet. One of the young women had accidentally put the car in motion and it reversed into him with a force that shook the outer walls of the building.
Read: How to assist at an accident scene
He was taken to a local hospital with his right leg in nightmarish shape.
“Am I going to be OK,” he asked a nurse. “You are going to be as good as new,” she reassured him. “It is simple, we’ve done it a thousand times.”
Doctors weren’t available, an operation had to be done and he was told not to eat. So he waited hungry. He waited until the 8th, a Wednesday.
'I couldn't believe it'
“I woke up after my operation and I saw my family crying. Then I looked down and I couldn’t see my leg anymore.” An artery had collapsed, so his leg couldn’t be saved. A CT scan on arrival would have avoided its severance. The young man’s life had been changed irrevocably.
“I was depressed. I thought I should end it. It was painful. Through it all I kept quiet, I was just quiet because I couldn’t believe it,” he says with his disbelief still evident.
The girl who ran away said she was sorry. He did not press charges. He had to learn to walk with crutches.
It has been a painful ordeal and not only because of his physical limitations. “When you walk like this people look at you differently. You’re always late.
"You fall down. I miss my leg. I would give anything to have it back. I never had a CT scan. If they did that first we wouldn’t be having this conversation now,” laments the BSc IT and Computer Sciences student from the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus.
Read: 7 signs that a CT scan is needed
An absentee farther and deceased mother means that Karebo is dependent on his grandmother, Magdeline, for his grandfather passed away the year after his mother. Her future and his are intertwined and their well-being worries him no end.
“I don’t know man. How am I going to work? Will I get a girlfriend? Am I always going to be a burden? I have to try and be a provider for my family because they have struggled too much,” he says shaking his head.
A bright and positive student
Meet Corrie Rheeder, trauma and guidance councillor at the Potchefstroom Campus. Rheeder became aware of Karebo’s need for crutches and, after hearing that he is on a two-year waiting list for a prosthetic leg, came to the immediate conclusion that the University cannot stand idly by whilst a student is facing such dire circumstances.
“He is such a bright and positive student. The way he is facing his plight is nothing short of inspirational. He is a computer programmer at heart and that is what we must help him to become,” she enthuses.
After investigating the matter, Rheeder found that R90 000 was needed to help Kerabo procure a prosthetic leg. The campus mascot, Pukki, donated R30 000 and the NWU office for disabled persons gave R20 000 towards this goal.
Read: What it feels like to wear a prosthetic limb
Rheeder: “We are very close in helping Kerabo improve his life and improve his own self-worth. But, we need help. Karebo needs help.”
To make a donation, Blanch Carolus, manager of the office for disabled students, can be contacted at 018 299 4431 or email@example.com.
Three Austrians to get bionic hands
How to make a prosthetic eye
Smoother control of robotic limbs through mind power