THABANG MANAMELA says there is nothing heroic about the fact that he obtained his qualification as a lawyer despite the fact that he is blind. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - Thabang Manamela doesn’t want people to romanticise the fact that he managed to obtain his LLB degree despite being visually impaired.

According to him, there was nothing heroic about his achievement. In fact he said he had just worked hard just like any other student.

The 25-year-old graduated with his degree from the University of Pretoria last week, despite many hardships encountered. Manamela, originally from Ga-Mashashane, Limpopo, has glaucoma, which resulted in him losing his eyesight at an early age.

In 2014, he was accepted into the institution and pursued a BA general degree. In 2015 he enrolled for an LLB degree. He said while it was a big transformation from learning using braille at Prinshof School for the partially sighted and blind to electronic learning at the university, hard work and assistance from others made it possible.

The Pretoria News yesterday met up with him in Brooklyn where he works as a candidate attorney - and he made it clear that disability should not stop anyone from achieving their goals.

“People tend to romanticise a certain achievement because a person has a disability. I don’t think of it as having conquered but instead I worked hard and I’m not apologetic about it. Hard work made it possible for me.”

He conceded that the journey was not an easy one due to having to adapt to changes.

“Coming from a school where you got individual and specialised attention and having to go to a new environment, you want something you get it done so the first six months were challenging. I was nervous but over time it got better. At some point my confidence also took a serious knock.

“UP’s Disability Unit stepped in in terms of assisting me with extra time for tests and exams and from then on it was smooth sailing. I also had friends who helped me navigate around campus.

“It was difficult studying at UP at first. I had spent most of my time as a pupil with only 12 learners in the classroom,” he said. The institution (Pretoria University) is huge and I was using a walking cane."

He started experiencing difficulty seeing a chalk board at primary school and later lost a substantial part of his sight.

At Tuks, he would record all his lectures and type up his notes, using the Job Access With Speech screen reader, a software programme that enables blind or visually impaired people to read text on a computer screen.

In the next two years, he wants to focus on getting admitted as an attorney and passing his conveyancing exam, as well as writing his notary exams.

Pretoria News