9. What are the National Orders?

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The National Orders are South Africa’s highest awards presented to     individuals by the President, in recognition of their contribution to the country. There are six categories of National Orders as follows:


It is awarded to South African citizens for achievements that have impacted internationally and served the interests of the Republic of South Africa. The first and highest category of this Order is awarded in Platinum, followed by Gold, Silver and Bronze.



It is awarded to South African citizens for distinguished service. It is an award for contributions in the following areas:

  • Business and the Economy
  • Science, Medicine and Technological Innovation
  • Community Service

Companion of OR Tambo

It is awarded to foreign nationals (Head of State and Government) and other foreign dignitaries. It is awarded for friendship shown to South Africa. It is therefore an Order of peace, co-operation and active expression of solidarity and support.



It is awarded to South Africans who have made a meaningful contribution to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice, peace and conflict resolution. It symbolises the vision of the late Chief Albert Luthuli – the legendary liberation struggle leader and the first African recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.



It is awarded to South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.


Mendi for Bravery

It is awarded to South African citizens who have performed an extraordinary act of bravery that placed their lives in great danger, or who lost their own lives including trying to save the life of another person, or by saving property.