22 July 2020 | Story Nonsindiso Qwabe | Photo Supplied
Tau Tladi.

In times of great difficulty, a tale of hope goes a long way in encouraging one to persevere. Tau Tladi, a second-year LLB extended-programme student who was diagnosed with ataxia – a degenerative disease of the nervous system – at a young age, has conquered many adversities. He is living his life to the fullest, pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer one day. Because of a brain injury during birth, Tladi struggles to speak, write, or walk. On campus, he makes use of a scribe and reader to write his tests and exams. 

Learning from others key to success

“Living with ataxia means I have improper speech, I struggle to walk properly, my hands can’t grab things properly, and I can’t even write with them.   Seeing other people living with disabilities and still pursuing their dreams has inspired me a lot; it made me realise that I too have the ability to achieve my dreams,” he said. 
While this disability presented him with many hindrances in life, it has never held him back. “Growing up was challenging because I was not able to develop like other children. As I got older, I could not experience some of the things that other kids could do, such as playing and running around,” he said.

Triumph in the face of adversity
Despite all the challenges, Tau completed his matric in 2016 and was even named as one of the top 100 achievers in the Free State. He describes his admission to the LLB programme as a dream come true. “I have always wanted to study an LLB degree. It is the best feeling ever to be at university and studying something that I always wanted to do. I would love to become an attorney.”

Tladi hopes to finish his degree in 2021. He is also an avid sportsman, having participated in the Free State paracycling team and winning first place at the national competition. 

“Living with disability has never been easy for me, so I have learned to be grateful and use every opportunity that I come across and work very hard to fulfil my dreams.”

Hanlie Grobler, Senior Officer in the Faculty of Law, described Tladi as a remarkable young man who always wears a smile on his face. “If you are feeling a bit blue today, cheated by COVID-19, that life is unfair to you – remember this young man who is an excellent example of determination, and do what you have to do, to the best of your ability, and be thankful for what you have.”

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