Amputee seeks help after 19 years
For the last 19 years, Tomeletso Ledaba, 42, has struggled through life on one leg.
Diagnosed with bone cancer in 1992, by 2001 doctors feared the disease was poised to spread from Ledaba’s right leg to the rest of his body.
Thus surgeons at Nyangabgwe Hospital took the difficult but necessary decision to amputate the father-of-one’s right leg.
Despite losing a limb, Ledaba continued his work as a herdboy at Moletemane lands, located on the outskirts of Mmadinare. With an 11-year-old daughter to look after, he had no choice but to keep working.
“It was that or starve,” explains the tall herder in an emotional trip down memory lane with The Voice this week.
Restricted in his movement and unable to chase the animals like he did in the days of his fleet-footed youth, Ledaba bought himself a bicycle to assist him in his duties.
Although it took him a while to learn how to ride with just one leg, after many painful falls the resilient amputee eventually mastered the art.
However, working as a one-legged herdboy for almost two decades has taken a heavy toll on Ledaba’s muscular but weary body.
With his daughter now 26, and with three children of her own, Ledaba, who remains the family’s primary breadwinner, is desperate for help.
He is pleading for financial assistance so he can buy a prosthetic leg.
“I am desperately in need of help because I am the one taking care of my daughter and her children. She survives with piece jobs so I have to fend for her children with the money I get from looking after cattle and goats.”
Ledaba, who is so tall he has to stoop when entering the boardroom in The Voice’s Francistown office, goes on to say, “Even though before being amputated I was working as a herder, now I find it difficult to work flexibly like at first. Of course I use a bicycle but I work in the lands where there are thorns that puncture my bicycle.
“When it has a puncture it means I don’t work as I cannot run after goats on crutches. So I really plead with everyone to help me so I can at least get a leg.”
Explaining why it has taken him 19 years to seek help, the hard-working herder reveals it was his new boss who convinced him to approach The Voice.
“I had lost hope as I knew I cannot afford a leg with the money I earn. Then my employer Balanngane Nthume from Sebina village suggested I publish my story on The Voice,” he says, nodding towards the burly man sat next to him.
Talking over the narrative, Nthume, who is a farmer at Moletemane lands, says he has known Ledaba for close to 12 years.
“He was working as a herdboy for the other farmers in the area. I took him to work for me four months back after he lost his job where he was working,” states Nthume, who describes his employee as honest and an extremely hard-worker.
“I was touched by the way he was suffering even though I hired him with one leg, I knew the little that I pay him can help. As we are a compassionate and caring nation I believe in helping the needy. I wish to see him getting the artificial leg he needs,” concluded the friendly farmer.