Heroic boy (9) honoured with National Order posthumously

Some of the recipients of the National Orders for 2019 with President Cyril Ramaphosa.Picture: Twitter/@GovernmentZA
Some of the recipients of the National Orders for 2019 with President Cyril Ramaphosa.Picture: Twitter/@GovernmentZA

On the last day of February last year, nine-year-old Thapelo Tambani – who was deaf – tragically lost his life after saving his friend, Mulalo Muelelwa, from drowning after he had fallen into a waterlogged trench at a building site in Soshanguve. In those desperate moments, Tambani managed to save his friend by sacrificing himself.

On Thursday morning, in honour of his selfless act, Tambani was bestowed posthumously with the country’s National Order of Mendi for Bravery in Silver by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“This young boy did not hesitate when he saw his friend fall into a water-filled pit, near his home last year. He managed to pull his friend away from danger, but lost his own life,” Ramaphosa said at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria where the ceremony took place.

The National Orders are considered the country’s highest honour, and are bestowed to recipients, both local and foreign, who have displayed great courage and bravery in various aspects of society, from sports to journalism and the arts, in an effort to foster a society free of racial and sexist discrimination.

Among the recipients was celebrated singer and actress Yvonne Chaka Chaka who received the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for her contribution to the field of music and social cohesion.

Math guru William Smith, who graced the television screens of many students with educational programme The Learning Channel for his fun outlook to teaching maths and science, was also recognised for his contribution with the Order of the Baobab in Silver.

Former City Press editor and veteran journalist Mathatha Tsedu, whose name has been prolific in the world of journalism for his role as an activist and writer during the apartheid era and afterwards, was recognised for his contribution towards journalism and the liberation of South Africa and the continent at large with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver.

Actress Mary Twala was bestowed with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for her contribution to the performing arts as well as bringing the awareness of women’s health issues through the use of storytelling.

Former South African cricketer Jacques Kallis, regarded as one of South Africa’s best all-rounders, also received the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver for his contribution towards placing South Africa on the sporting world map.

Award-winning actress Nomhle Nkyonyeni, known for her roles in television series’ such as Mzansi and Tsha Tsha, received the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver, for her contribution to the performing arts.

Late minister of environmental affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, who passed away last year, was honoured with the Order of Mapungubwe in Gold, for her contribution towards environmental justice.

“A citizen is an agent for change. We have among us today the very best of such citizens. You have gained recognition for your dedication to personal, professional and other improvement; to putting yourselves at the service of your country; and for your willingness to do your part to make South Africa a better place,” Ramaphosa said.

The full list of recipients

The Order of Mendi for Bravery in Silver:

Thapelo Tambani (Posthumous)

The Order of Ikhamanga in Silver:

Achmat Davids (Posthumous)

Jacques Henry Kallis

Yvonne Chaka Chaka Mhinga

Nomhle Nkonyeni

Benjamin Pogrund

Mathatha Tsedu

Mary Mhlongo Twala

The Order of Ikhamanga in Gold:

Johaar Mosaval

The Order of the Baobab in Silver:

Braam Jordaan

Constance Mirriam Thokozile Koza (Posthumous)

Bongani Donald Mkhwanazi (Posthumous)

Ray and Dora Phillips (Posthumous)

William Smith

The Order of Luthuli in Silver:

Velaphi Msane

Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe

Antony Andrew Trew

Moyisile Douglas Tyutyu

Yosuf (Joe) Veriava

The Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze:

Thokozani Majozi

The Order of Mapungubwe in Silver:

Malik Maaza

Ari Sitas

The Order of Mapungubwe in Gold:

Bomo Edna Edith Molewa (Posthumous)

The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Bronze:

Riccardo Sarra (Italy)

The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver:

Klaas de Jonge (The Netherlands)

Khotso Makhulu (United Kingdom)

Paulette Pierson-Mathy (Belgium)

Amii Omara-Otunnu (Uganda)

Lucia Raadschelders – posthumous (The Netherlands)

The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Gold:

His Excellency Admiral Didier Ignace Ratsiraka (Madagascar)

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