When Kopano Sekgobela is moving his wheelchair it makes an irritating, creaking sound, like a rusty gate swinging shut.
Sekgobela was left wheelchair-bound when he and his Polokwane City teammates were involved in an accident back in 2012. In fact, Sekgobela was one of the five thrown out of the bus when it overturned near the rural Limpopo village of Nobody.
Of those five, he’s the only one who survived. Khomotso Mpaketsane, Mojalefa Mphuthi, Koketso Takalo and Benjamin Nthete died on the spot.
Since the accident, the former City midfielder has been using the same wheelchair that now makes a creaking sound as though to remind him it needs to be replaced.
“I am really thankful for your support FARPost and coming back to bring this beautiful wheelchair. The one he has been using from Pretoria when he was still nursing his injuries had one wheel broken,” his mother, Rosina Sekgobela, said.
It makes sense that this wheelchair is now complaining. It has come too far. Its ‘mileage’ is way too high because, according to an expert, the average lifespan of a wheelchair is two to three years.
Of course when you want to stretch it, you can go as far as five years for a manual. Yet this one would have clocked a good nine years come 11 November.
And by the way, the more a wheelchair is used, the shorter the lifespan will be due to daily wear and tear. It is usually advisable to service the wheelchair every three months.
Moving parts should also be lubricated if the chair becomes difficult to move like Sekgobela’s. But who would do it for Sekgobela, a man seemingly forgotten after that fatal accident in 2012? The extreme wearing away of his wheels says it all.
“I was now struggling with this wheelchair,” the soft-spoken Sekgobela admitted. It is for that reason that he and his mother are beset by intense emotion when the FARPost team arrives to deliver his brand new wheelchair.
“I don’t even know what to say my brother, I’m so grateful for what FARPost has done for me. This is not the first time,” he says on the sidelines of the handover in Ga-Phasha Village, a mountainous area 102km south east of Polokwane.
FARPost previously donated a playing kit for his team last year in February. What made it even sweeter this time is the presence of his childhood hero Doctor Khumalo.
“I’ve always wanted to meet Doctor in person and I’m glad I got to do that today, I remember a game he played many years ago where he dribbled everyone and scored,” he said.
FARPost carried a story about Sekgobela’s plight in May. The company’s management then felt the need to purchase a new chair for the former City midfielder whose career was cut short at the age of 22.
Just before handing over the new wheelchair, the great Doctor Khumalo spoke as though he were a coach urging on his charges at half time.
It’s as though he understands what Sekgobela has gone through since the accident that put an end to his playing career almost nine years ago.
“It’s a second chance in life, sometimes you come across this in life and you don’t survive,” Khumalo said.
Come to think of it, Khumalo knows too well what it means to get a second bite of the cherry in this life riddled with trials and tribulations.
After all, the former Bafana Bafana midfield maestro and Kaizer Chiefs playmaker, was shot and wounded when gunmen opened fire on guests at a Soweto wedding in Orlando West in 2002. He was hit by a stray bullet.
“I have a bullet wound on my thigh,” he continued as he sought to illustrate that the Creator often has a way of handing people second shots at life.
In essence, his point is ‘whatever the circumstances, one has to always be grateful’.
Interestingly, the bullet story, which Sekgobela never knew although it was reported in the media, has encouraged him. It has given him, he says, that extra impetus to keep on keeping on.
“I am really reminded of how God gave me a second chance to live. I’m grateful for life every day. I believe I’m here because God still has a purpose for my life,” Sekgobela said.
Khumalo used diski lingo to stir the 31-year-old who runs an amateur team, Dinoko FC.
“You know in football if you’re not strong mentally you can’t perform. Even in life, it’s like that. Performance isn’t about the physical aspect of things, it’s about the heart,” said Doc, sounding like a coach giving pep talk.
“So this beautiful gesture from FARPost marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. New beginnings. After receiving this, you need to be mentally strong and remember that God loves you.”
Sekgobela’s mother, Dinoko’s number one fan, believes the wheelchair will make life easy for her last born son. She sees just how passionate he is about the boys he’s coaching.
Truly, one of the best things in life is to put a smile on someone’s face and knowing that you put it there. Seeing those smiles and hearing the words of gratitude was extremely refreshing. Thumbs up to FARPost management!
By Mthokozisi Dube