Nominated by Ponatshego Sebola, a 23-year-old former University of Pretoria student, Mr Martin Madibane Phalane’s story is one that inspires hope and ignites the desire to add value to peoples’ lives one wheelchair at a time.
His story begins in 2009 when he was involved in a vehicle accident that left him in a coma for eight months and led to the amputation of his left leg. His family decided to switch off the life support machines – and, miraculously, he woke up!
This is why he is referred to as Ntate Phalane “The Miracle Man”. As a result of his amputation, he began using a wheelchair; then grew strong enough to use crutches.
In 2010, Ntate Phalane joined T-SHAD, the Tembisa Self-Help Association for the Disabled, where he taught himself – as well as patients living with Down Syndrome – how to repair wheelchairs. That same year, he learned how to assemble wheelchairs at Medop Close Corporation in Germiston.
In 2018, Ntate Phalane's story won the hearts of UP students from Enactus, a nonprofit organisation that aims to assist beneficiaries in various communities using entrepreneurial solutions to achieve sustainability – thus empowering beneficiaries to a level where they can operate independently.
When he left T-SHAD, he registered his own private company in Tembisa: Phalane Miracle Wheels Repairs, an operation that repairs, customises and refurbishes manual wheelchairs. And through the Enactus UP chapter, his story birthed Miracle Wheels, a project that assists him to fulfil his journey.
Additionally, in 2019, Ntate Phalane revealed that he also works at Ithembelihle LSEN School in Germiston, where he repairs wheelchairs for primary school children living with physical disabilities.
He works with physiotherapists at Ithembelihle LSEN School so that these children receive his services. Furthermore, his manual wheelchair services are being marketed at MuelMed Clinic in Arcadia, Pretoria to patients in need of assistance.
He also received a certificate for Spinal Peer Support Training under MuelMed Clinic. Moreover. His story was a featured in an article in Rolling Inspiration Magazine titled 'Miracles and Real Magic'.
Ntate Phalane’s services are not only affordable, but they cater to their exact needs – a rare combination.
In the words of his nominator Ponatshego: “As an amputee who was close to death, this zealous man in his late 50s has inspired change and reminds us that the biggest change we can achieve is being selfless in order to serve others. ‘The Miracle Man’ just does this one wheelchair at a time…”
Ntate also receives and another R50 000 to pay forward to a cause of their choice courtesy of 1Life Insurance.