Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma last night honoured men and women who have made great contributions to South Africa’s democracy by bestowing National Orders on them at a ceremony at the Presidential Guesthouse.
“We are honouring a distinguished group of men and women, who have displayed tremendous love and dedication for this country and its people,” President Zuma said on Wednesday evening.
The highest orders that can be bestowed on citizens as well as international persons were held for the first time in conjunction with Freedom Day celebrations.
“We are holding this ceremony on this important day because the National Orders recognize the highest contribution that individuals can make to the success or well being of this country and her people,” said the President.
The Order of Mendi for bravery among others was awarded to Sarah Gertrude Mary Christina Holland posthumously for providing shelter to orphaned children while also sacrificing her own life to save the lives of children who were in her care following a fire that broke out at her house last year.
The Matola Raid Martyrs received the Order of Mendi in gold for paying the supreme price for freedom and for sacrificing their lives in pursuit of democracy. Fifteen cadres of the Umkhonto we Sizwe (the former ANC military wing) were killed when the apartheid regime in 1981 attacked at Matola in Mozambique.
Recipients of the Order of Ikhamanga included renowned photographer Sam Nzima. =The order is awarded to South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, journalism, culture, literature and sport. Nzima took a photo depicting Mbuyisa Makhubu carrying the slumped and bleeding Hector Peterson during the 1976 Soweto student uprisings.
“I feel extremely happy about the award,” Nzima told BuaNews, adding that he felt that the country’s democracy is advancing well since the advent of democracy. Nzima was awarded the order in bronze.
Also in the same category, athlete Josiah Thugwane took the order home in silver for his achievement during the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996 and for his contribution to the field of athletics. “I’m happy to have been remembered,” said the 40-year-old.
Thugwane said more should be done to develop athletics at school level seeing that most children take part in track only at the beginning of the school year. “We need development,” said Thugwane.
Fourteen other people were nominated for this order including former Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza the former chairman of the Committee were among those who were honoured last night.
The Order of Baobab, awarded to citizens for distinguished service in the fields of business and science, was awarded to Reginald Dudley Ford for his work in the field of education and contribution to community service. Four others received this order.
The Order of Luthuli is awarded to those who have served the interests of South Africa by making a meaningful contribution in any of areas such as the democracy, human right and nation-building. Margaret Gazo one of the women who participated in the Women’s March to the Union Buildings in 1956 against pass laws, was honoured posthumously. She received the award in bronze.
The award also went posthumously in bronze to Tsietsi Mashinini for his bravery and leadership in the Soweto student uprisings.
The Order of Mapungubwe in silver was awarded Pieter Steyn for his work in chemistry and biosynthesis of mycotoxins.
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo (which is awarded to foreign nationals) was awarded to Helene Passtoors for her contribution to South Africa’s struggle for liberation democracy and human rights. Three others were also nominees in this category including former Brazilian President Lula da Silva for his contribution of the agenda of the South and for the creation of a just and equitable system of global governance. He is to receive his award later as he could not attend the ceremony.
The Presidency’s Director General and chancellor of the Orders Cassius Lubisi said: “South Africa has benefited through their contributions.”
Among some high profile people who attend the event were former President Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele as well as Dali Tambo and playwright John Kani. – BuaNews