“I WASN’T born like this,” Nyasha Koroka (36) says as she looks solemnly at what remains of her left hand — a prostrate limb amputated just below the elbow covered by a crepe bandage hanging lifelessly from her shoulder.
REPORT BY CYNTHIA R MATONHODZE
“I used to work my field when I had both my arms and I was able to fend for my children, but now. . .”
She trails off looking — tears clouding her eyes — at a small piece of dry land with a few burnt maize leaves reminiscent of a once productive spell. Her one-roomed mud-brick house is perched next to it standing desolate.
A lone chicken walks by occasionally scratching the dry earth as it moves around the yard probably looking for food. It was a symbolism of the lonely struggle she has endured as a widowed single parent.
Koroka’s plot sadly reflects her reality since she was electrocuted by a Zesa cable in 2010. It has been a painful, lonely journey of seeking monetary compensation for her lost hand since then.
She sighed before she spoke: “My husband passed away. I can’t afford to take all my children to school so my youngest is the only one that goes to school. My children need education for them to be able to take care of themselves one day.”
Koroka is a single mother of three — Diana (19), Dion (17) and Andrew (7).
Resignedly, she spoke of her work as a Grade 0 teacher at Bickleighvale Mushamukuru Primary school: “It’s been hard for me”, she says. “Earning $70 a month barely does anything for my family.”
She recalls the events of the cold afternoon that would change her life drastically.
“It was January 10, 2010. I was a few kilometres from my home in Bickleighvale Farm here in Banket. It had been raining heavily the days before so the power lines were disturbed. I just remember waking up in hospital and being told I had been electrocuted. A few days later I was informed my hand had to be amputated.”
Three years after the incident she says she is still awaiting compensation from the power utility supplier.
“They (Zesa) immediately fixed the power line when they heard that someone had been electrocuted. They paid my hospital bills, but I am still waiting for my compensation. ”
Just as she finishes speaking her youngest child runs straight to her lap and asks her why she is the only one in the family with a “smaller hand”. “He always asks me that and I always explain, but you know kids. . .”
Koroka joins a growing list of people whose lives have been left disabled by Zesa’s negligence. One such victim — Alexio Tembo (32) of Shamva — was left paralysed and contemplated suicide after he was electrocuted holding a power cable.
He also hasn’t been compensated and can no longer get his rotting wounds dressed because Zesa stopped paying for his hospital bills.
“My wife ran away and I am suffering. I don’t have anything anymore. I don’t even have the means to look after my (sic) children,” Tembo said last September.
Yet another victim Patrick Daniel (6) of Kadoma was electrocuted in February when he touched live Zesa cables on a rotting power pole. He died a few days later from injuries sustained from the incident.
Koroka, with one hand balancing her body and two knees pressed on the scotched floor of her kitchen blows the burning firewood to boil the water in a black tin. “Travel well,” she says to me as she waves with her only hand.