What started as a promising day with routine duties in the minefield suddenly turned into his worst nightmare for Corporal Takawira Collen of Parachute Regiment Combat Engineers on 27 April 2022. At about 0645 hours Corporal Takawira was hit while carrying out missing mine drills.
On that fateful day, Corporal Takawira, a team leader, had requested for another mine detector, as the one he was using was no longer functioning well. As he turned to receive another machine, that is where the horrific incident caught up with him. A moment of silence engulfed the demining area in the aftermath of a loud bang that shocked even other deminers. In the blink of an eye, his colleagues rushed to Corporal Takawira, who was lying on the ground yelling for help, rendered him first aid before carrying out casualty evacuation drills.
Corporal Takawira was quickly ferried to Malipati Air Strip, while receiving adequate medical aid from the military medical team. He was then air lifted to Harare. Due to the degree of his injuries, he was admitted at the West End Hospital in Harare, where his right leg was amputated below the knee level. Doctor Didymus Mutero and his team confirmed to Corporal Takawira that he had sustained a very serious injury and he would be amputated for him to be treated. He was treated and discharged from West End Hospital and is now in a stable condition.
After showing signs of good recovery, Corporal Takawira was later faced with a serious quandary. His dilemma was not on whether he would walk or work to fend for his family, but how he would foot the inescapable bills for the specialised medical procedures that would follow. He feared these would drain off his pocket.
Much to Corporal Takawira’s relief, the ZNA cleared off all the medical bills amounting to RTGS300 000 and hired a vacuum machine that was used for vacuum dressing on his wound, which was charged in United States dollars per hour.
“I would like to thank the Zimbabwe National Army for coming to my rescue as I escaped death by a whisker. It was a dog-eat- dog situation that I could not even believe I could succeed. However, I am happy that although I lost my leg but I am still alive due to the Army’s timely intervention. All along, I could not envisage that the organisation would stand by me. Special thanks goes to Dr Mutero who played a critical role in ensuring that I acquired adequate and effective medical treatment,” Corporal Takawira said.
Corporal Takawira also thanked the ZNA Command Element who paid regular visits and brought food hampers during his agony in hospital. He acknowledged the unwavering reassurances his colleagues gave him when he was both in and out of the hospital, saying it gave him strength.