From his hospital bed in Malta, Lamin Jaiteh, a Gambian national, has for the first time testified to a court on Thursday as he is being treated for spinal and arm injuries at Mater Dei Hospital. Jaiteh was abandoned on the road by his boss following a two-storey fall before crawling his way onto the pavement for safety.
“I couldn’t stay on the road because it was narrow. So only two cars were able to pass through in the opposite direction,” Jaiteh explained. “I used my elbows to drag myself onto the pavement,” Lamin told the court.
On September 28, Jaiteh went to work with his colleagues in Mosta in the morning. At around 9 am, his employer Glen Farrugia told him to go to Mellieħa to clean the rooftop and use a crane to put up concrete blocks.
Jaiteh said that there were two or three men with him on the rooftop of the construction site. He explained that he needed a hammer to pull out some nails from wood and so went to ask his colleague for one.
He was on the second floor of the construction site and stepped on a wooden plank on the scaffolding. However, there was no iron support below the plank of wood. So, with nothing to hold on to, Jaiteh fell the whole two storeys, and the scaffolding came down with him.
Jaiteh said that he couldn’t get up after the accident, so a colleague laid him flat on the ground while he notified his employer of the accident.
By the time Farrugia arrived at the accident scene, Jaiteh was in a lot of pain and began to cry.
“I told them to help me. I’m dying. Call an ambulance. He told me, ‘no, if you call an ambulance, everyone here will end up in prison,” Jaiteh explained.
The employer told Jaiteh that he was going to take him to the hospital. But, instead, he asked some workers to place him on a wooden plank in the car that acted as a makeshift stretcher. The workers then lifted him on the plywood and transferred him to a parked van with the company logo.
Jaiteh said he kept crying and asking for help in the van. Finally, when they approached a big roundabout in the area, his employer told Jaiteh that he would leave him somewhere and someone else would get him.
“Why are you treating me like this?” Jaiteh asked him while in the van. Farrugia allegedly replied, “What can I do?” and remained quiet.
When the two arrived at the small road, “where he left me,” as Jaiteh explained, he said Farrugia stopped in the middle of the road and dragged Jaiteh out from the van.
“It was a pain like I’d never experienced before. It was in my whole body. I couldn’t tell where the problem was, and my legs weren’t responding.”
After he was put on the ground, Farrugia told Jaiteh, “if the police ask you, tell them you were hit by a car.”
Jaiteh explained that he saw Farrugia calling someone. At first, he thought it was for an ambulance, but then Jaiteh heard him say, “a black guy is here on the road.”
His employer then left him on the ground. At this point, Jaiteh dragged himself onto the pavement.
He said he wasn’t sure how long he had been left there, but the pain was severe. He started screaming for help and then saw two girls passing by.
“Help me, I’m dying,” he cried out to them. They approached him and asked what had happened. He explained that he had fallen from a construction site and his boss had left him there.
The girls then called an ambulance and police. He said it took a while for the ambulance to arrive and that the police were first to arrive on the scene.
When they arrived, Jaiteh said he was scared because of what Farrugia had told him earlier that day, that if the police came, they would all go to jail.
“I was crying and telling them that I didn’t want to go to jail. Finally, however, the police told me no, I wouldn’t be going to jail if I told them what happened.”
Jaiteh was then taken to hospital. He was x-rayed, and his hand was placed in a cast.
On his work background, Jaiteh said he had previously worked in plastering and painting on construction sites. However, he never received training in this area, although he worked in plastering in his home country, the Gambia.
Jaiteh had worked in Italy before coming to Malta, having worked as a tailor previously. However, he arrived in Malta through Libya and only has Italian documents.
He arrived in Malta in May and found work by the end of the month.
Jaiteh repeatedly said he didn’t know whether or not he had permission to work in Malta legally. He initially came to Malta because he had a nephew who had been living in the country. Jaiteh wanted to visit him and eventually decided to stay in Malta and work.