UL ADMITS STUDENT WITH RARE CONDITION
2 Sep 2020
By Samantha Malebana
The University of Limpopo (UL) accepted a student with amelia this year, the very first with the rare birth defect, in its history of admitting students with disabilities.
Ephraim Dikeletjo Kekana (21) was born without upper limbs, short in stature, missing knee caps and having no toes. He was raised at Gedrogte village in Zebediela, Limpopo.
He says he realised he had a disability during his childhood when playing mini families and driving bricks. Whereas his friends would crawl and drive the bricks using their hands, he had to sit down and use his feet to push the brick and when it came to feeding himself, he had to lift the spoon with his feet.
“Attending both my primary and secondary in special schools made it less challenging because my needs were catered for in terms of mobility and academics, although the treatment from some of the teachers was discourteous and insensitive as they would shame me in front of visitors at the school making me feel like my disability was worse compared to other disabilities,” he says.
Kekana is studying towards a human resource management degree. He says he chose this degree because he is passionate about people’s rights being adhered to and ensuring harmony, equality and fair wages in workplaces irrespective of colour or race.
He says he feared that there would be a lack of accommodation at the university but was welcomed warmly and given a room that accommodated his needs and privacy. The university accommodated Kekana at a residence that is designed to be more accessible even though it is primarily reserved for female students.
“Though my needs academically are not yet met in terms of barriers at the lecture halls, the university management is currently attending to it to ensure that the equipment at the lecture halls is adequately lowered to meet my condition.”
Justice Phukubje, the acting director of the disability centre at UL, which caters for academic needs of students with disabilities, says they had invited Kekana’s lecturers to sensitise them about his condition and also introduced him to all first-year students during the orientation programme.
“The goal was to make sure the students don’t stare at him with anguish when they meet him in class or see him walking around campus,” Phukubje says.
After registration the university appointed Simon Morategi Kekana (30) to be his brother’s caregiver.
“I did not even think twice about putting my life on hold to go assist my brother on campus because I am the one who understands his disability better since I have been assisting him since he was a child,” Simon says.
Kekana says “With the assistance I am getting from the university to ensure that my special needs are catered for, I am looking forward to completing my degree in record time.”