By Nhlangulu Sithole
Nkowankowa-Double amputee Pastor Simon Shabangu (43), hailing at Nkowankowa Township used to visit Letaba School for the disabled-on weekends to play soccer and made good friends when he was in Primary School, little did he know he was being prepared. He grew up as a typical township boy who loved energetic activities.
In 1993 aged 16, while doing grade 8 at Progress High School his life changed for the worst during a Car ZigZag Orlando Pirates win against Iwisa Kaizer Chiefs celebrations.
He was riding his new 12 days old Peugeot green female mountain bike with a friend paddling on a busy road in Nkowankowa’s Mariveni road when he was knocked from behind by a City Golf at around 6 pm on the 13th of March. After the knock he flew to the air and landed very badly, the minibus taxi which drove behind the city golf drove over his right knee, the knee was badly damaged and he lost consciousness as his friend drove off stuck in the windscreen of the city golf as the bike was driven over. The driver of the car the late Rodgers Tshimbane was picked by the same minibus driver which drove over Shabangu’s knee to escape the scene. He was immediately rushed to Pietersburg Provincial Hospital as the friend was admitted to Letaba Hospital.
He was hospitalised from March 1993 until August 1994. It was confirmed that his spine was damaged waist down but the doctors made the choice not to impute both legs immediately. His right broken knee was on a mend for almost the whole year but only to contract a bad watery infection which led to thigh down amputation in 1996 but due to the discomfort the whole leg had to go.
According to Shabangu, unfortunately, the driver of the City Golf committed suicide in September 1994. Post the accident he survived at least three car accidents, he explains the tragedies as follows; in 1996 on November 09 he was knocked down by a car on his wheelchair in front of his gate, he sustained minor injuries.
In the year 2000 in August he was slightly knocked against the pavement in Lenyenye on his electrical wheelchair by a drunken driver which dislocated his left leg joint from the waist, he bared the pain and discomfort until 2003 when he had his left leg imputed
Meanwhile, in 2008 on September 05, he was involved in a car accident in which the car he was in rolled several times yet he survived.
However, in 1995 he attempted going back to school but due to the lack of facilities to accommodate his wheelchair at Progress High School and he had developed back sores he couldn’t stay at the school, he had to move to Letaba School for the disabled in to further his for his grade 8 until he completed grade 9. Due to his back sores, he had to lie on a bed during his classes. The school had classes up to grade 9 after grade 9, which meant after grade 9 he had to travel far to another province to further his high school studies, because he was still in a vulnerable condition and had no one to care for him and he was young, he opted to stay home.
A few years later as a married man and stable enough to care for himself he registered for Adult Based Education and Training (ABET) to complete his high school. In 2015 he studied acting at John Latataiment College in Mpumalanga where he measured in Drama and Scriptwriting for six months towards his acting career as an actor.
However, in 2017 he had to follow his call to become a Pastor, “I had been approached by at least 3 prophets telling me that I should serve and be in ministry fulltime but I ignored the call or should I say did not take them seriously; it was until I was approached by a lecture Ms. Ropa at Phumelele Bible College in White River, I followed through and registered to study Theology in February 2017, I completed in 2019 to qualify as a pastor,” Pastor Simon revealed.
“This is where God wanted me to be and I am grateful am alive.” Pastor Simon concluded