Johannesburg - The injustice Katlego Manone, one of the country’s matric top performers for 2017, has seen in his young life has been enough to drive him to study law.
“I feel like there’s a dent in our justice system and if I work hard enough I can close the gap,” Katlego confidently says when asked why he was opting for an LLB degree.
“People would hurt others and be sentenced to three months maximum (in jail). As soon as he comes back he hasn’t changed. He does the same stuff all over again, which I feel is wrong."
“I want to end up being the reason for the vigilantes being where they are supposed to be.”
The doors of the University of Free State, in his hometown, beckoned for Katlego. He has been accepted at the institution.
Katlego did his schooling and matric last year at Martie du Plessis High School in Bloemfontein. He joined other 2017 top matric performers for a special ceremony basic education minister Angie Motshekga hosted in Sandton on Wednesday.
Motshekga reminded these matriculants they were not only best in their schools or regions, but the entire country.
She called them the creme de la creme of the country’s schooling system. They came from both poor and rich schools.
Katlego has had to overcome more than many of his peers throughout his schooling years. He was born without both hands.
He writes with his feet, and said he has never seen his condition as disadvantageous. “I don’t see it as a disability. I don’t see myself as disabled. I see myself as differently abled.”
And his advice to others like him? “So, what if you’re like that? There’s nothing you can change now. Rather work on bettering yourself, instead of discouraging yourself,” he said.
With the support of his family, Katlego learnt writing with his feet before he started school. “A year before I went to school I went to a lot of therapy. They helped me practice."
“My father was also pushing me. I would literally sit six hours a day just trying to practice the alphabet, trying to perfect it. It worked out,” he said.
Katlego’s father, Gaongalelwe Manone, described his performance as a sweet surprise. “I saw it coming, but I didn’t expect it (that he’d be one of the country’s top performers),” he said.
“He was always very hard-working. For the mere that he doesn’t have hands, he was born like that, he wanted to prove to the whole world (that) ‘no man, even if you’re disabled you’re able’.”
Katlego does not like people feeling sorry for him. This fact made his father believe in his capabilities from a young age.
“From his young age he didn’t have a problem (with not having hands). It’s just that people were looking at him and feeling sorry for him, but he’d say ‘why are these people saying argh shame?’.
“He didn’t like the word argh shame. From that point I could see that this boy will go places,” said Manone.