Sandiso learns the hard way

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A BRIGHT 17-year-old orphan regularly goes to bed hungry - but never misses a day at school.

One of the top five Grade 12 pupils at his school, Sandiso Buthelezi also fears he will not obtain a tertiary education if the state - or some Good Samaritan - fails to fund him.

Teachers at Ngqengelele High School near Ulundi say he excels in mathematics, physical science, biology and geography.

Buthelezi's misery began in 2002 when his mother passed away. He and two siblings relied on their unemployed father and grandmother. But his grandmother and his father passed away this year.

"My father went missing for a whole month. His decomposed body was found under a bridge in Tongaat.

"Since his death things have gone from bad to worse and I have been forced to beg from my aunt," Buthelezi said.

"When my aunt does not have anything I go to sleep with an empty stomach."

"I sleep all by myself because my siblings now stay with my aunt.

" I have learnt to be strong but hunger is any man's match. Begging for food is one thing I will have to do because I have no alternative.

"If my aunt does not have food I just come and sleep and wake up to go to school.

"It's hard, but it's a road I have to travel."

Buthelezi said the hardship he faced had not deterred him from dreaming about a better tomorrow.

"I hope to become a paramedic when I complete matric."

One of his teachers, Phindile Khwela, said: "He is respectful, listens well and likes his school work.

"Though the loss of his father disturbed him he managed to pull through."

Department of social development spokesperson Mandla Ngema has promised his department would "try their best" to support the struggling student, who was clearly an outstanding pupil.