The top performer at a special needs school in Limpopo, Tiyani Mbendzani, lost his sight in Grade 5.
This, however, did not deter him from pursuing his school education, which came to a close in 2019. And now his name is on the country's top 30 achievers list.
"What I have realised is that my disability never stops me from doing whatever it is that I want, and my disability is nothing," he told News24 at the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results announcement in Midrand on Tuesday.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that the Class of 2019 had achieved a 81.3% pass rate - a 3% increase from the 78.2% pass rate the previous year.
Mbendzani hails from Limpopo, which ranked 9th out of the country's provinces, with a pass rate of 73.2%.
After learning that he would be part of the Class of 2019’s top 30 achievers who would grace the stage and enjoy breakfast with the minister, he felt an "unexplainable joy".
"I am extremely happy, I cannot explain the joy that is inside me," he added.
The Rivoni School for the Blind pupil said that he had initially dropped out of school when he lost his sight. Hope was restored when his parents enrolled him in a special needs school.
"When I was in Grade 5, I lost my sight and I dropped out of school, but in the following year my dad took me to a school for the blind people.
"When I started, I loved economics and I always achieved well there. I was also considered as one of the top learners in my district," he said.
A proud Motshekga announced that more than 2 500 pupils with special needs had sat for the 2019 exams, and that 1 277 distinctions had been obtained.
Mbendzani will now study for an LLB at the University of Johannesburg.
"When I grow older, I want to be a state law advisor," he said.