Mr Meluleki Thethwayo, who is partially blind, was named one of the top three students in his Discipline. He is congratulated by Dr Saul Cobbing, Head of Physiotherapy.

Disability No Match for Top Student

Partially blind Physiotherapy graduate, Mr Meluleki Thethwayo’s dream came true when he was named one of the top three students in his Discipline.

‘I never thought that this would come to pass,’ he said. ‘Everything is through the power of God.’

Thethwayo started wearing glasses at the age of seven and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, glaucoma and cataracts.

Born in the Mfekayi area of Mtubatuba, he faced many challenges at university, including not being able to see the screen and to view anatomy specimens. ‘I also had difficulties in clinical settings and was stigmatised by other health professionals,’ he said.

A born-again Christian, Thethwayo thanked his family, especially his parents and aunts; as well as his friend, Ntokozo Nxele, for encouraging him to complete his degree. ‘Brethren played an imperative role with their prayers. They gave me strength to push on,’ he said. He also expressed his gratitude to the UKZN Disability Unity, his Physiotherapy lecturers and the Student Development advisors at the REAP Bursary office.

Thethwayo is currently doing his community service at Ngwelezana Hospital at Empangeni and is looking forward to registering for a master’s degree at UKZN next year. ‘I plan to become a lecturer in Physiotherapy,’ he said.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal