'I thank God I'm alive' - Sandton City collapse victim

2015-06-10 12:58
(Lelo Mzaca via Twitter)

(Lelo Mzaca via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - A 25-year-old woman whose leg was severely crushed when a part of the ceiling at the Sandton City collapsed on her on Thursday said she was grateful to be alive.

"I just thank God for sparing me," Elfi Loambo told News24 from her hospital bed at the Sandton Medi-Clinic.

"That roof could have hit my head and my family would have had to go on without me. Even though it is going to take time for me to heal, I am blessed," she said.

Loambo said she had just stepped out of the library at the Nelson Mandela Square after studying when she met up with a friend of hers at the mall.

They stood together, waiting for another friend when disaster struck.

"We heard a huge noise. It sounded like a thunder. We asked each other what was that. It happened so quickly," she said.

"Before we knew it, we saw dust coming down.  I looked up and I saw the roof was breaking... As soon as I saw that, I put my hands on my head and tried to run but after the first step, I could not run anymore. My leg would not move," Loambo said, adding that the entire ordeal unfolded in less than 10 seconds.

Her foot had been crushed and torn open by the falling debris.

‘Like a horror movie’

The incident was surreal.

"It was like a horror movie, something that you see on movies. But there was a woman who came and helped me through it all. She held my hand and spoke to me," said Loambo.

"At that time, I felt like grabbing onto someone, anyone, for help," she said.

Loambo, who is originally from Congo, has been in hospital for a full week now where she has undergone two operations.

The third-year BComm Management student was meant to have started writing her exams with Unisa last week.

"I missed the exams and I am not quite sure if I will get a special exam," said Loambo.

Her aunt was in communication with the university, but Loambo said she doubted that she would be ready to take on any exam at the moment.

"The thing is, I may not be ready to start with the exams in July. At the moment, I am struggling to even sleep," she said.

‘Supposed to graduate’

She has had to come to terms with the fact that her life will be put on hold as she heals.

"If I had completed all my modules this year, I was supposed to graduate next year," she said.

While Sandton City had acknowledged the incident, the extent of Loambo’s injuries was only made public this week when her friend posted pictures of her injured leg on Facebook.

The woman, Lucie Ndjeka, said she felt as though the incident had not received the attention it deserved from the mall management and needed to be spoken about.

Since the incident, Sandton City has posted a few statements on the incident, stating it was concerned about Loambo.

"The cause of the accident is still being investigated. In the interim, we are ensuring that Ms Loambo’s medical costs are being taken care of," the mall's general manager, Julie Hillary, said in a statement.

‘Do what is right’

News24 asked Loambo whether the mall management had been in communication with her since the incident.

"On Thursday [the day after the incident], there were two ladies from the mall who came to see me. Since then, I have not seen or heard from them. Maybe they have been in contact with my aunt but with me personally, I have seen nobody," she said.

Asked what she was expecting from the mall management, Loambo said at the time, there were no warning signs about constructions happening at that particular area. She, however, understood that it was an accident.

"This thing could have happened to anybody. It is quite difficult to say what I expect from them.

"Some people on the internet have been saying I should sue them, but all that I can think of is that this could have been anyone.

"Sandton City knows what is right though. I just hope that they will do what is right," she said.

At the moment though, her focus remained on gaining full recovery.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  accidents

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