Local heroes

2010-04-28 00:00

PRETORIA — Two local heroes were honoured by President Jacob Zuma last night at a Freedom Day ceremony in Pretoria.

African National Congress stalwart Harry Themba Gwala was honoured posthumously with the Order of Mendi for Bravery, Gold. His son, Linda Gwala, received the award on the family’s behalf.

The founder of the Pietermaritzburg-based Gift of the Givers foundation, Imtiaz Sooliman, was awarded the Order of Baobab, Silver, for his organisation’s work as a relief agency in disaster areas.

They were among 34 people who were presented with various orders for their exceptional contributions to society.

Gwala was honoured for the outstanding bravery he showed during the struggle against apartheid.

Lindiwe Gwala, who was in Pretoria to watch her brother receive the award on behalf of the family, told The Witness: “We as the Gwala family feel honoured that our father received this high award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the struggle for liberating the people of South Africa. We salute him and also thank President Zuma for honouring him.”

Gwala said they wanted to celebrate the award on their return to Pietermaritzburg, but would first consult the family and ANC leaders.

Ernst van Dyk, who won a silver medal in the London Marathon last weekend, was given the Order of Ikhamanga, Silver.

Two other sports personalities — Fifa president Sepp Blatter and Jacques Rogge, head of the International Olympic Committee — were also presented with orders.

Another international recipient was President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has led Angola since 1979.

Trumpeters Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela were recognised for their lifelong contributions to jazz, as was actor Winston Ntshona, who won a Tony in the United States for his role in Sizwe Banzi is Dead. Athol Fugard wrote the play in collaboration with Ntshona and John Kani.

Orders were bestowed posthumously on Percy Qoboza, a former editor of City Press, and Vernon Berrange, a member of the defence in the Rivonia trial of former president Nelson Mandela.

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