National orders for TV maths teacher and boy who gave his life to save friend
"There can be no greater human contribution than to lay down one's life to save another." So said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday as he honoured nine-year-old Thapelo Tambeni from Soshanguve.
Ramaphosa posthumously bestowed the Order of Mendi for bravery on Thapelo, hailing his "act of selflessness and courage" in trying to help a friend who had fallen into a water-filled pit near his home last year.
The young boy managed to pull his friend away from danger, but lost his own life.
Said Ramaphosa: "His brave deed will be forever recorded in our country's history, with those of the fallen soldiers on board the SS Mendi, who perished in the sea en route to the Western Front in the First World War.
"There is no honour, no award, that can extinguish the pain of the loss of a life so young, in circumstances so tragic.
"To Thapelo's family, we wish you strength. Your son was among the bravest of the brave."
Other recipients of national orders included TV maths teacher William Smith, singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka and cricketer Jacques Kallis.
Ramaphosa said of Smith: "Through TV, he made mathematics and science accessible even to the most marginalised in our society." And many agreed, flooding social media with their appreciation of the maths guru.
Oh man, this man completely deserves this award and recognition. The passion that he showed for teaching Maths on the telly back then - unmatched. He helped me get through the most back in primary and high school. #Legend #NationalOrders https://t.co/UqtMKEA4uY— Matebello (@MatebelloZA) April 25, 2019
The Order of #Ikhamanga is bestowed in SILVER on:— PresidencyZA (@PresidencyZA) April 25, 2019
JACQUES KALLIS: For his contribution to the sport of cricket and for placing South Africa on the world sporting map. His stellar career & commitment to the sport inspired many young people to aim for excellence.#NationalOrders pic.twitter.com/aL1KEKh3HY