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WATCH | Pupil blinded by snake venom achieves top-20 matric marks in class of 2021

Venom from a cobra went into the eyes of Lethabo Maleka at the age of 10, but the Limpopo student has still managed to become a top achiever

Catherine White Video journalist
One of the 20 top-achieving students, Lethabo Maleka was invited to breakfast with the minister and deputy minister of education at the Houghton Hotel.
One of the 20 top-achieving students, Lethabo Maleka was invited to breakfast with the minister and deputy minister of education at the Houghton Hotel.
Image: Catherine White

Lethabo Maleka was just 10 years old when his life changed forever, after an encounter with a cobra.

The 19-year-old matric pupil told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE of the 2012 incident that led to him losing his sight. The venom that entered his eyes resulted in him struggling to see the blackboard at school.

“It just got worse over time, and now I am totally blind,” says Maleka.

Despite his disability, Maleka was invited as one of the top 20 achievers to breakfast with the minister and deputy minister of basic education at the Houghton Hotel in Johannesburg on Thursday. 

Maggie Molepo, principal at Setotolwane Secondary in Limpopo, which Maleka attended, accompanied the student and his mother to the breakfast session. 

“These students need a lot of support. The equipment they use is very expensive ... and if you don't have the Braille writers and laptops and all the equipment, it is very difficult to support such a learner,” she said.

Setotolwane Secondary has 235 students with sight and hearing disabilities from across the country, which it educates in mobile classrooms.

“We really need a school building.” added Molepo.

Maleka had this message for visually impaired pupils: “They must work hard and not use their blindness as an excuse not to achieve in life. With God everything is possible.” 

Maleka intends to enrol at the University of Pretoria for an LLB degree. His dream is to become an advocate. 

Top achiever Lethabo Maleka and Maggie Molepo, the principal at Setotolwane Secondary, after being interviewed by TimesLIVE.
Top achiever Lethabo Maleka and Maggie Molepo, the principal at Setotolwane Secondary, after being interviewed by TimesLIVE.
Image: Catherine White

TimesLIVE


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