Daniel de Wet was working with the crowbar, commonly known as a gwala, inside a gold mine when the incident occurred, Northcliff-Melville Times reported.
“I was using the gwala to stir up the mud,” he said. “I wanted to stand up on the suction pipe, which stands about a metre high, and somehow I slipped.”
De Wet looked down and saw that the gwala had penetrated his body, going in between his legs and coming out his back, just below his shoulder blade.
“Because of the adrenaline rush, I had absolutely no pain at first. There was only one guy with me. He became very scared and didn’t know what to do.”
Within minutes, a crew with a first-aid pack and stretcher arrived, and he was airlifted to hospital an hour after the accident. It was found that the gwala had been pressing on the blood vessels and thus prevented too much blood loss. Two surgical teams operated on De Wet – one team concentrating on the abdomen and one on the chest.
Once the gwala was pulled completely free, the doctors saw that the impalement had caused significant damage, destroying one kidney and damaging the small bowel and numerous blood vessels.
Although De Wet lost a kidney, he made rapid progress and was able to walk after being transferred to a high care unit. Only 19 days after the accident, De Wet was discharged from hospital. He has since returned to active duty at the mine and continues to serve on the mine’s rescue team.
He concluded, “My employers had the gwala chromed and mounted on a stone with a Bible verse on it. I’m planning to donate it to Netcare Milpark Hospital as a token of my appreciation for all they have done for me. What I have learned from this whole experience is, you must believe in miracles every day.”
Last year, an AngloGold Ashanti employee not as lucky as De Wet was killed in an accident at the Mponeng mine in Carletonville in November.
“The deceased, a scraper winch operator, was fatally injured in a fall of ground incident,” said company spokesperson Chris Nthite.
– Caxton News Service