Pothole victim in agony

2010-02-01 00:00

THE Tugela Ferry woman who is suing the Transport Department, after she was involved in a car accident in 2004, that left her with part of her arm severed, says she feels let down by the government official who accused her of greed because she instituted court action.

Hluphile Zuma (53) used to work as a chef at the Church of Scotland Hospital in the area, but had to quit her job after the accident.

Her daughter, Londiwe, also suffered a fractured skull in the accident.

Zuma was hospitalised for months in Edendale Hospital and St Anne’s Hospital, while her daughter spent two weeks in Edendale.

Zuma is now suing the government for R1,1 million for her loss and pain, but the government is contesting the lawsuit on the grounds that there were no funds to fix the road, and that the road had exceeded its life span.

Zuma’s daughter was also not compensated, despite filing a claim with the Road Accident Fund in Durban.

The Witness visited Zuma at her home on Saturday. She was lying on her bed and had difficulty getting up because of the pain she experiences from her amputated arm.

The mother of three, with four grandchildren, said she can hardly do her daily house chores with one hand, and the pain is excruciating every time she stands up or walks.

She and her daughter were travelling from Greytown to their home when their taxi hit a pothole and overturned, while attempting to avoid an oncoming vehicle on the Keate’s Drift/Tugela Ferry road.

“I was in the process of building my home for my family when this happened. Look at the plastering and ceiling. It’s not finished because, after the accident, I had to use all my savings for medication and food after my medical aid funds were exhausted. Everything is falling apart at this home because I was the breadwinner.

“Now, with an unemployed husband and four grandchildren and no income, things are worse. I can’t even offer you a home made drink,” lamented Zuma.

She said her grandchildren might have to be taken out of their school because she cannot afford the fees.

Zuma also needs a helper, as she is in constant pain. She cannot afford regular visits to the doctor.

Her two daughters work away from home, and her third child has died.

Last week, Transport head of department Chris Hlabisa was reported in the media as saying people should stop “ripping off the government” by suing the department for injuries and damage caused by potholes. Instead, they should be grateful they have roads on which to travel.

He said there are people whose lives, when it rains, come to a standstill because they can’t cross ri­vers to get to schools and clinics.

Zuma said government officials are greedy and care less about those in the lower levels of social strata.

“The government refuses to compensate me because of greed. They only use taxpayers’ money for their sel­fish needs. If the tables were turned, I’m telling you, they would have compensa­ted me,” said Zuma.

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