From wheelchair to successful businesswoman


Selma Ikela

A businesswoman who was the sole survivor in a horrific car accident 16 years ago, which killed four people has now become a flourishing businesswoman.

She shared her trying story about how she was in the intensive care unit for three months, then in a wheelchair for about three years and how after all this she became a successful businesswoman.

Cynthea Martin-Haihambo has a list of businesses and projects under her name.
She owns Greiters conference centre, Hebhiziba rehabilitation centre for alcohol and drug abuse and recently reopened the Arandis garment factory, which employs 400 people.

She also owns a 3.8-megawatt solar plant at Arandis and a five-megawatt plant being built in Tsumeb. She is also the author of a book titled, ‘Crazy Faith’, which has not yet been published.

However, some 16 years ago after the accident and bieng wheelchair bound, Martin-Haihambo’s home appeared in a newspaper for auction.

The doctors also told her that because of the multiple fractures she had sustained they were not sure if she would ever be able to have children again. She shared her story as a guest speaker at the Night of Inspiration with Sam Shivute over the weekend under the topic of “The Law of Possibilities”.

She briefly spoke about the horrific accident, where her close friend, the Windhoek personality Nokukure Karuaihe (35), wife of the late Judge Fonnie Karuaihe, died.
She also spoke of how her nine-year-old son at the time took care of her after school, even while some ‘friends’ deserted her.

Martin-Haihambo’s entry on the stage was dramatized with effects of tyres screeching when they pushed her on stage in a wheelchair with a headscarf covering her face.

A local online newspaper report dated 23 April 2001, reported that four people were killed in the road accident after the vehicle they were travelling in rolled eight time after a tyre burst.
The son of the then Home Affairs Permanent secretary Niilo Taapopi, Sacky, who worked for Karuaihe also died at the Otjiwarongo hospital after suffering severe injuries.

After the accident, Martin-Haihambo went into a deep coma and only opened her eyes a month later, with her mother beside her hospital bed. She recalls how thankful her mother was after she woke up.

There was also a doctor who told Martin-Haihambo what happened and that only time would tell if she would regain her mobility.

“When I heard the doctor’s voice my hand automatically moved down to my stomach searching for the bump because I was pregnant at the time. My eyes were full of tears when I felt the twins I was carrying were no more there,” the emotional Martin-Haihambo recalled.

“I was so sad up until today,” Martin-Haihambo said, and added the doctor told her because of the multiple fractures she suffered they were not quite sure if she would be able to have children again. Over the period of her recovery, seven doctors operated on her.

“But today I am so happy that three of my children are sitting here today,” she said while calling out their names.

Martin-Haihambo leaves the stage; walks back and speaks about the present projects that she is involved in as an entrepreneur.

She said she could not see herself sitting in a wheelchair and based her life on four P’s, which consist of praying, persevering, passion ( starting projects to assist others) and the law of possibility.

“I went into the four P’s that I do on daily basis, and they have sustained me. I started praying to the Lord and refused to accept my circumstances.

“Whatever you are going through tonight, you need to refuse to accept it. You can’t stay in the same circumstances forever. You need to renew your mind and move forward,” Martin-Haihambo stated, who at the time registered for a distance course in employee assistance through a university in Cape Town.

She attended her course while in her wheelchair and crutches.

She further said that when her occupational therapist told her: “Cynthea , you need to do this exercise, instead of doing 10 I did a 100 of them because I could not see myself in this situation that the world had put me in.”

She further said that instead of people sitting and complaining they should make use of the time given to them as everyone on earth is given a limited time here. Martin-Haihambo said she has had a second chance see the positivity in what she went through.

“I am doing all these things because of the accident I was involved in,” she said and added that people needed to have positive beliefs because they were the masters of their own thoughts.


  1. What a moving story! But I failed to notice anywhere in the article where it says “she can walk on her own now”. Can she now walk on her own?


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