Soshanguve boy (9) who lost his life saving friend honoured by Ramaphosa

Thapelo Tambeni saved his friend from drowning but lost his own life in the process and he has now been honoured with the Order of Mendi for bravery.

President Cyril Ramaphosa wished the family of Thapelo Tambeni strength, saying he was among the bravest of the brave. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Nine-year-old Thapelo Tambeni from Soshanguve, who saved his friend from drowning but lost his own life in the process, has been honoured posthumously with the Order of Mendi for bravery by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The president was bestowing the 2019 National Order Awards at Sefako Makgatho Guest House in Tshwane ahead of celebrations to mark 25 years of freedom this Saturday.

The orders awarded were Ikhamanga, Baobab, Luthuli, Mapungubwe, and the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo for foreign nationals who contributed to the struggle for liberation.

Honouring Tambeni, President Ramaphosa wished his family strength, saying he was among the bravest of the brave.

“His brave deed will forever be recorded in our country’s history with those of the fallen soldiers onboard the SS Mendi who perished in the sea en route to the western front during the first World War. There is no order, no honour and no award that can extinguish the loss of a life so young in circumstances so tragic,” Ramaphosa said.

WATCH: President Ramaphosa bestows national order awards

Mary Twala, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Nomhle Nkonyeni were among recipients in the Order of Ikhamanga category, which recognises South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.