Zuma honours SA ’ s heroes
ON Mother’s Day two years ago, 19-year-old Michael Janse van Rensburg lost his life while saving a teenager from drowning.
The first-year accounting student from Klerksdorp in North West jumped into a river running through a golf course without hesitation.
After rescuing the 14-year-old who had got into difficulties, he drowned.
On Friday night, Janse van Rensburg’s heroic action was recognised by President Jacob Zuma when he was posthumously awarded the Order of Mendi for Bravery at a ceremony at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.
The Presidency rolled out the red carpet on Freedom Day to celebrate South Africans who made an invaluable contribution to the country.
Among the 31 recipients were musician Johnny Clegg, the late activist Peter Mokaba, five former ANC presidents, the late US Senator, Edward Kennedy, Dr Patience Mthunzi, dancer Gladys Agulhas, playwright Muthal Naidoo, the late unionist Elizabeth Honman and journalist and press ombudsman Joe Thloloe.
Said Zuma: ‘‘ We honour all those who were at the forefront of our struggles, who through their political activism, working class leadership guided and inspired our people to its ultimate destination.”
He said among those honoured were some from less celebrated fields that included scientists, engineers, teachers, nurses and those from aviation, arts and sport.
‘‘ We are honouring all who made a very important contribution to this country and continue to make us proud to be South Africans by making history in their diverse avenues.”
Janse van Rensburg’s father, Dawie Janse van Rensburg, who accepted his son’s gold medal, said: ‘‘ I still haven’t got words for it. We are very proud of him. We are very sad that he is not here to receive the award.”
A dapper Oliver Tambo jnr, the 13- year-old grandson of the late Oliver Tambo, and son of Dali Tambo, accepted the award on behalf of his late grandfather.
The spunky teenager, who raised his fist in the amandla (power) salute, said:‘‘i literally felt his legacy . . . it was an honour to receive it on his behalf. ”
A surprised Thloloe said he was excited to accept the award for his contribution to journalism.
‘‘ I was very surprised especially if you consider the tension between the media and the ANC,” he said.
Clegg, who accepted the award for his lifetime contribution to music, was a crowd favourite as star-struck guests queued for a picture with him.
He said he was on tour in New Zealand when he received the call from the Presidency.
‘‘ It was a very special moment for me . . . it takes me back 30 years where it all started. It’s been a long journey,” said Clegg.
Edward Kennedy jnr, the son of the late Senator Kennedy, flew in from the US to accept the award on behalf of his father. Kennedy was honoured for his support and tireless efforts to campaign for freedom in South Africa.
Said Kennedy jnr: ‘‘ This was a real family issue for me . . . we are honoured that the government of South Africa have given us this recognition.”
BRAVERY: The Janse van Rensburg family, Jaco, father Dawie, mother Driekie and younger brother Dawie jnr, at the National Orders awards ceremony in Pretoria. The family accepted the award for bravery on behalf of their son and brother Michael who died...
AMANDLA: Oliver Tambo jnr, the grandson of the late Oliver Tambo, accepts an award from president Jacob Zuma on behalf of his grandfather in Pretoria this week