President Cyril Ramaphosa bestowed the 2019 National Orders Awards upon several local citizens and eminent foreign nationals for their efforts and contributions towards making South Africa a better place.
The National Orders are the highest awards that South Africa bestows, through the president, upon citizens and members of the international community who have contributed meaningfully towards making the country a free, democratic and successful nation, united in its diversity.
On Thursday, 25 April 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised a number of South African icons in the local arts and culture scene for their decades-long contribution to their craft. Mary Twala, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Nomhle Nkonyeni were among the recipients of the Order of Ikhamanga category, which celebrates South Africans who have excelled in the fields of culture, literature, music, journalism and sport. The awards ceremony took place at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.
In honour of a heroic and selfless act, President Ramaphosa bestowed Thapelo Tambani with the country’s National Order of Mendi for Bravery in Silver, posthumously. Tambani was a nine-year-old deaf boy who tragically lost his life in on 28 February 2018 after he saved his friend, Mulalo Muelelwa, from drowning. Muelelwa had fallen into a waterlogged trench at a building site in Soshanguve and Tambani saved him, sacrificing his own life in the act.
“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.
The Order of the Boabab in Silver was awarded to Mathematics wizard William Smith, who graced South African television screens on the educational programme The Learning Channel, where he offered a fun outlook to teaching maths and science.
Other awards went to former City Press editor and veteran journalist Mathatha Tsedu and former South African cricketer Jacques Kallis, who were both bestowed the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver. The last award was an Order of Mapungubwe in Gold, posthumously bestowed upon late Minister of Environmental Affairs Dr Edna Molewa, who passed away in 2018.
“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 of the recipients.