- President Cyril Ramaphosa has given National Orders to 30 distinguished South Africans and eminent foreign nationals.
- Among those receiving awards were gospel star Rebecca Malope and founding member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dr Bhekizizwe Shabalala.
- Retired Constitutional Court justice Edwin Cameron received the Order of the Baobab in Gold.
After a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday finally conferred National Orders to 26 distinguished South Africans and four eminent foreign nationals who have contributed towards the advancement of the country’s democracy and made a significant impact in improving South African’s lives.
Making his keynote address, Ramaphosa said: "Two years have passed since we last held a presentation of the national orders due to Covid-19.
"This pandemic has devastated livelihoods and it has disrupted almost every part of our lives. While we acknowledged that the pandemic is still very much a part of us we also recognise the important duty that we have as a nation to honour those among us who have made outstanding contributions towards the betterment of our country as well as the human condition," said Ramaphosa.
The first recipient of the Order of Mendi in gold for bravery is Gcinisizwe Khwezi Sylvester Kondile (posthumously) for his ultimate sacrifice to the liberation of South Africa.Mr Bantu Ncuka receives the award on his behalf #2021NationalOrdersAwards pic.twitter.com/8v1cALeOnl— Juniour Khumalo (@JKwritingz) November 18, 2021
He went on to confer the Order of Ikhamanga to gospel star Rebecca Malope in recognition of her decades-long work in the fields of arts, culture and music. Legendary musician and founding member of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dr Bhekizizwe Joseph Shabalala, who died in 2020 received his posthumously.
At the opulent event held at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Tshwane, Ramaphosa also bestowed the Orders of Mendi for Bravery in Gold, posthumously, to Gcinisizwe Khwezi Kondile and Reverend Isaac William Wauchope.
Kondile received the award for his ultimate sacrifice to the liberation of South Africa, while Wauchope received the awards for lifting morale through poignant words and support in the darkest hour for soldiers who died in the sinking of the SS Mendi.
The Order of Mendi for Bravery in Silver was awarded to Chad Basson who took a bullet when he shielded a stranger during a gang shootout. It was awarded posthumously as Basson lost his life during his act of bravery.
Roydon Olckers, who was crushed to death while saving pupils at Hoërskool Driehoek also received the Order of Mendi posthumously.
Ramaphosa said the national orders recognised many outstanding individuals who, in many ways, defied the odds and made immense sacrifices for us to attain our freedom, and ensure that such freedom became meaningful and was enjoyed by all.
"These are the people who use their tremendous talent not only to entertain, provoke and inspire, but also to strive for a better, more just and human society. They are men and women who confront oppression and exploitation whenever they manifest."
Meanwhile, retired Constitutional Court justice Edwin Cameron received the Order of the Baobab in Gold for his contribution to the judicial system and his tireless campaign against the stigma of HIV and Aids and for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities.
Gospel star Rebecca Malope received the Order of Ikhamanga, which recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.