Lineekela Haimbodi, who was 12 years old in March 2015, was walking from school when a vehicle that was trying to overtake another accidentally rammed into him, leaving him permanently injured and bedridden.
His quality of life would deteriorate exponentially since that fateful day.
To add insult to injury, Haimbodi cannot be assisted by the government institution established to help those who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents because he is too young. “His dream of one day becoming a fruitful and responsible human being has been shattered,” these were the words of Ester Kapenda (52), whose nephew’s life changed forever after being struck by a car.
Eight years later, after the accident, Haimbodi is now bedridden, legs and arms fractured and unable to talk, feed himself or do anything by himself. “He was a bright child, with a bright future, but now his future looks bleak as he cannot do anything anymore,” sobbed Kapenda as she stared at her nephew lying down hopelessly.
Although Haimbodi led a normal life up until the March 2015 accident, Kapenda said her nephew was diagnosed with Van der Knaap disease.
However, she suspects the accident has deteriorated the condition because he has suffered a severe head injury.
Various online sources state Van der Knaap disease, also called megalencephalic leukoencephalopathy, is a rare, inherited, autosomal recessive disorder.
It is characterised by macrocephaly that either presents at birth or develops during infancy.
Kapenda, an unemployed mother, said she moved to Windhoek in December after her sister (Haimbodi’s mother) fell ill and died.
She said after Haimbodi’s accident, her sister was left distraught and severely depressed.
“I would like to believe the accident has led to her death because after that, she became sickly,” she said.
Kapenda said she is finding it difficult to care for Haimbodi, as he is now reliant on her to feed, bath, and change his diapers. Kapenda has also taken Haimbodi’s twin brothers under her care.
“I now have a family of 11 to take care of, including my other children, and I don’t have any kind of support or income,” she stressed. She also added that Haimbodi also requires a lot of support as he cannot swallow food, water or medicine and he only feeds through a pipe.
He needs nutritional supplements, Ensure, as prescribed by the nurses, and also adult diapers.
Haimbodi and his twin brothers’ father has also died and they each receive a N$250 social grant from the government. According to Kapenda, she was told by the family after her sister’s death that Haimbodi will only be paid out by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund when he turns 21. Based on an interview this publication had with Haimbodi’s mother in 2020, she lodged a claim with the fund on 29 July 2015. The MVA Fund’s records show Haimbodi was involved in a car accident as a pedestrian and sustained a moderate frontal open laceration.
In the same interview, the fund’s CEO Rosalia Martins-Hausiku told New Era Haimbodi was awarded an injury grant but since he is a minor, the benefit was paid to the Master of the High Court and will be paid out at the age of 21, as per Section 10 of the Child Care and Protection Act.
In addition, Martins-Hausiku said the fund also awarded medical benefits to Haimbodi but ceased after they discovered that he is a known epileptic patient with pre-existing head injuries.
“Medical records in the fund’s possession clearly show that the current medical condition of the said Lineekela Haimbodi may not be a direct consequence of the motor vehicle accident, in which he was involved on 4 March 2015. The fund affirms that the claimant’s mother was aware that the claimant had a pre-existing head injury, and she was informed on why the fund ceased to assist,” Martins-Hausiku said at the time.
Haimbodi was in grade 9 in 2019 when he officially dropped out of school. His former teacher Simon Mungungu remembers him as an “active and naughty child”. He said the last time he spoke to him was when he tried asking him something in class and he was unable to respond. “That is when I noticed that Lineekela’s condition has gotten worse and we sent him home. From that day on, he never returned to school,” he said.
Mungungu also mentioned that before the accident, Haimbodi had a concentration problem. “Sometimes when you ask him something in class, he would have a completely different answer. So, we suspected that he must have had a certain condition that we were not aware of. However, we miss him at school and we are saddened that he could not continue anymore,” he added.