‘I was forced to use machine and now my fingers are gone’

Pretoria - A 26-year-old woman has been left handicapped after the loss of her fingers in an accident at Univa factory in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria.

The factory produces washing machines and electrical stoves.

The woman, Dineo Loate, alleged she was forced to operate an industrial cutting machine for which she was not adequately trained.

Attempts to get comment from the company were unsuccessful. Company managers had, however, indicated that they declined to comment.

"I told my supervisor I couldn't use the machine, but I was told to work. I had only been employed at the company for three days," said Loate.

Fearing she would lose her job, Loate said she risked her safety and tried to operate the steel cutting machine anyway. Moments later, the unthinkable happened. There was blood gushing from her left hand. Four fingers were gone.

"The machine cut off my fingers. I was in excruciating pain,” she said, adding that she was then taken to hospital.

Loate, who has a 5-year-old, said she was filled with fear regarding the future.

With tears rolling down her cheeks, she said one of her biggest fears was not being able to provide for her child.

"I want them to compensate me. Where am I going to work? How will I live? I was desperate for work and to get an income so I continued working but my life is now ruined," she said.

She said she signed a contract when she started working there.

"I was employed as a general worker. We do a lot of jobs in the factory."

She said she did not know if she would be going back to work when she is discharged from hospital.

Loate, who is right-handed, said the only thing that gave her comfort was the support of her family and the love for her child.

"At this stage, I don’t know how my life will turn out once I leave the hospital but my family is very supportive. I’m still looking for legal advice regarding what the next step should be," said Loate.

News24 visited the factory in a bid to speak to the managers. Instead, an employee was sent to speak to the reporter. After a discussion regarding the incident, the employee went back inside and later returned to indicate that the managers had declined to comment.

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