Man trapped in a child's body

By Drum Digital
17 August 2010

THE figure behind the teller of the Centurion computer store looks like he should be in primary school. Standing no taller than 1,16 m and weighing just 24 kg, he draws shocked stares – and irate comments – from customers.

“What is a child doing playing with the cash register?” a woman recently demanded. “Can’t his mom look after him? Where is the manager? This behaviour is irresponsible and unprofessional!”

Bongani Skosana just smiles, points at his neat uniform and name tag and replies, “Good day, my name is Bongani and I’m 28 years old. I have been working here for several years – how may I help you?”

It’s only when his fingers start moving deftly across the cash register that you realise he’s telling the truth. Bongani has a rare growth-hormone deficiency, also known as pituitary dwarfism.

Although his body is perfectly in proportion, unlike other types of dwarfism which cause people to have a big head, short arms and legs and a long body, Bongani has grown no bigger than a Grade 1 child.

“People never believe how old I am but I have become used to it,” he says. “They are all kind to me.”

Bongani was small at birth – although his exact weight then is unknown – and has always been smaller than his peers. When he was in Grade 6 he became ill and he stopped growing altogether. “Nobody knew what was wrong with me but I was very sick,” he says.

Other than that, his health has been fine. He did need an operation to remove his wisdom teeth a few weeks ago because his mouth was too small to accommodate them, but that’s been it.

He may be small, but he’s strong – and he’s living as normal a life as possible. NORMAL life for a guy of 28 would be to have a girlfriend, enjoy a few drinks with friends and relax at a football game – and Bongani is no exception.

Read the full article in DRUM of 26 August 2010

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