His schoolmates huddle protectively around him as he walks down the stars on his crutches and mechanical legs.
If you were none the wiser you might feel sorry for 10-year-old Brandon Menezes – but the titanium limbs making sharp points at the knees under his grey school trousers are the best thing that has happened to him.
Finally he’s as tall as many of his pals at Die President primary school in Germiston, and can walk almost as normally as they do.
Brandon suffers from diastrophic dysplasia, a dwarfism disease, and was born with club feet. Five attempts to straighten his legs surgically failed and he had to walk with crutches or use a wheelchair.
Finally his mom, Charlene Potgieter, accepted he’d be better off if his legs were amputated at the knees. It was a drastic decision and expensive too – it would cost R200 000 just to maintain artificial legs and after five years he’d need a new pair.
The family established a trust fund to raise the money for Brandon’s first set of legs. Now, two months after the amputation, he’s able to look his classmates in the eye.
‘‘It’s just like having normal legs,’’ he says proudly.
Brandon can’t wait to start playing golf – the Golfer’s Club in Fourways, Sandton, has given a set of new clubs. ‘‘And he’s going to start playing rugby with us,’’ friend Tristan Beckett (10) says.
Read more about this brave little boy in YOU, 3 February 2011.