Top matriculant still achieving

Hlulani Malungani, who lost his eyesight in grade 10, was one of the 2016 top achievers. / Thulani Mbele
Hlulani Malungani, who lost his eyesight in grade 10, was one of the 2016 top achievers. / Thulani Mbele

Hlulani Malungani became the talk of the town after becoming one of the national top achievers in matric despite becoming blind in grade 10.

Malungani, from the matric class of 2016, is now bringing home more distinctions from university.

"It's distinctions on top of distinctions. Last semester I had [distinctions in] three out of four modules," he said.

The 21-year-old Malungani, who went to Rivoni School for the Blind in Limpopo, is now a third-year psychology student at the University of Johannesburg.

"It's a good university but it was a little bit complicated in first year because they didn't know how to cater to people like us," he said.

Malungani said he had to deal with some people who thought he was spoilt because he needed special attention from the lecturers.

However, he said blind students needed certain assistance such as software to help them translate their textbooks and other text into audio so they can hear it.

"It can take up to a week or month to get the content but you just need to keep pushing," he said.

Malungani said despite the challenges at university he was able to navigate the university without assistance.

"Navigation is simple once you get used to it. We were taken across the university to know the campus," he said.

Although he would like to have a guide dog, he said it was a long and complicated process to get one.

"Training of the dog takes time and there are also financial implications. You have to take it to the vet and feed it. It's your responsibility."

Malungani said he was completely independent and cooks and cleans for himself at university.

He said he was driven to succeed with his studies because he wanted to take his family out of poverty.

"I've always told myself that I want to change my family's situation," he said.

"My mom is unemployed and my dad is self-employed in construction."

The star student said he wanted to study all the way to PhD level and change the face of psychology.

"I do not see myself giving up after all that I've been through," he said.

His mother Lucy Mathebula said she was proud that her son had accepted his disability and continued to thrive.

"I thank God for his success. He is happy," she said.

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