National orders for TV maths teacher and boy who gave his life to save friend

Thapelo Tambani was posthumously awarded national orders on April 25 2019 for his act of heroism last year in saving a friend from drowning, only to lose his own life.
Thapelo Tambani was posthumously awarded national orders on April 25 2019 for his act of heroism last year in saving a friend from drowning, only to lose his own life.
Image: Supplied

"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.


Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X