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Mbeki unveils new national orders

1st December 2003

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Two new national orders were unveiled by President Thabo Mbeki yesterday to honour South Africans for outstanding achievements.

He also announced a new decoration for bravery.

The Order of Luthuli was created to recognise contributions to the struggle for democracy, nation building, human rights, justice, peace and conflict resolution on the African continent, explained Yvonne Muthien, chairperson of the president's advisory council for national orders.

It was named after African National Congress stalwart and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Albert Luthuli.

The second new order, dubbed Ikhamanga, was named after the Strelitzia flower and would be awarded to citizens who excelled in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.

The Mendi Decoration for Bravery would be given to South Africans who endangered themselves to save the life of another, or property, in or outside the republic, Muthien said.

It was named after those who perished on the troopship SAS Mendi that sank during World War One, taking 607 South African Native Labour Corps members to a watery grave.

The three awards complete the country's set of new national orders.

The other three - the orders of the Baobab, Mapungubwe and the companions of OR Tambo, were first awarded at a glittering ceremony last December to 28 achievers.

Among them were former presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda, the late Indian human rights campaigner Mohandas Ghandi, and Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson.

Muthien said more than 40 South Africans would receive national orders and decorations at the next bestowal ceremony tomorrow.

Their names would be made known today. – Sapa.

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