Blind 2021 top achieving matriculant on his way to becoming an advocate
A blind Limpopo student who was among the top 20 matric achievers in 2021 is on his way to becoming a lawyer.
Lethabo Maleka, 20, is in his second year of a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree at the University of Limpopo.
Maleka matriculated at Setotolwane Secondary School in 2021, with distinctions in Sepedi, English, business studies, tourism, history and life orientation.
I make sure there is a balance between time with friends and my studies. I cannot complain about university life. It is goodLethabo Maleka
His plans to study at the University of Pretoria did not come to fruition due to a failure to formally apply to live in the campus residence.
Instead, Maleka is about to start his second year at the University of Limpopo, where his textbooks were translated to Braille by the university’s disability unit.
“LLB is difficult because it has a lot of content and the dedication [required] is a lot. I am getting distinctions but I can’t say it is the same as in high school. I did 10 modules last year and only got seven distinctions,” he said.
The oldest of three siblings, he says he aims to become an advocate in criminal law. He finds inspiration from the late blind singer and advocate Steve Kekana, as well as former justice minister Michael Masutha, who is partially blind.
“My family is happy and excited. I am still trying to perform well and keep going. I have two younger siblings in high school. I am also trying to help them pass well,” he said.
Maleka was not born blind. He gradually lost his sight after an encounter with a snake in 2012 at his home in Ga-Mphahlele, Limpopo.
“I was going to the toilet and I found a cobra which spat venom into my eyes,” he told TimesLIVE on Tuesday.
He lost two academic years as he had to stay at home. His parents were struggling to find information on schools that cater for blind children.
But in 2014 he returned to school where he had to repeat grade 5.
“I was able to cope with my disability with the help and support of teachers and learners,” he said.
Despite his disability, he enjoys life on campus.
“I live on campus and I have a social life and friends, but I make sure there is a balance between time with friends and my studies. I cannot complain about university life. It is good.”
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