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

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