Community support gets Morningside resident’s wheels back on track

Steve van der Meer and an overjoyed Allan Pretorius after his wheelchair was returned.

THE theft of one of the batteries linked to the circuitry of his wheelchair almost crushed Morningside resident, Allan Pretorius, whose wheelchair provides him with his independence and mobility.

Allan and his mother, Shirley, are well known to the community. Shirley can be found in Lilian Ngoyi (Windermere) Road most days, where she sells dog blankets to make a living.

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Shirley said she had taken Allan’s electric wheelchair out of the storeroom to wash it on 9 April, and had chained it to the storeroom gate and had gone back up to her flat.

“When I went back down, I saw someone had stolen one of the two batteries from the chair! This was the last thing I thought someone would steal as it is a totally useless item! The batteries are linked to the circuitry of the chair and can’t be used or charged independently from the chair, so whoever stole it probably trashed it!” she said.

Shirley explained that the batteries are bought in pairs at R1 120, so they can be linked and balanced.

“That’s a lot of money for someone like me who works as a vendor,” she said.

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However, thanks to he help of a friend who posted Shirley’s dilemma on the Morningside Facebook page, it wasn’t long before pledges started rolling and enough money was raised to replace the batteries.

“By Thursday we had had the chair fitted with the new batteries and Allan was overjoyed to have his chair back,” she said.

“This chair is Allan’s complete independence and his ability to move. This incident was a disaster for us, it was like cutting off Allan’s legs! We really thank everyone in the community who helped us to get Allan’s chair fixed. We are so grateful,” she said.

Lauren Walford

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