Bravery award for crash hero

Janine Oelofse and Stephen Vegelien

“I DON’T really see myself as a hero. I suppose an award for bravery is a nice thing to have but it was just a natural reaction on my part.

“If you see a child screaming for help, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t climb in and help.”

These were the words of Knysna businessman Neil Sharrocks shortly after he received the news that President Jacob Zuma had awarded him a silver Order of Mendi for bravery.

The national orders were announced by the director-general in the presidency, Cassius Lubisi, yesterday and will be officially handed over on Friday.

Sharrocks rescued 44 pupils when he stopped to help minutes after a bus carrying 56 primary school children rolled into the swollen Kasatdrift River in Rheenendal in August.

Eastern Province Rugby president Cheeky Watson is to receive the silver Order of Ikhamanga for “his exceptional contribution to the field of sport, in particular rugby”.

According to the Presidency statement, Watson is recognised for his excellent contribution towards the creation of non-racial rugby and his stand in the struggle for the creation of a non- racial, non-sexist and democratic society.

Watson said he was humbled by the nomination. “Many of us don’t do it for the awards, so it is an honour to be nominated. It will give me an extra encouragement to work towards achieving my goals, and create awareness for the region,” he said yesterday.

Student Michael Janse van Rensburg, 18, who died while rescuing a 14-year-old boy from drowning, will posthumously receive a gold award for bravery.

Other recipients include:

Musician Johnny Clegg;

The press ombudsman, Joe Thloloe;

Jazz musician Julian Sebothane Bahula;

Legendary pilot Selwyn “Scully” Levin, for his contribution to aviation;

Zane Maureen Wilson for her contribution to the formation of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group;

Mining expert Prof Daniel Gerhardus Krige for his contribution to the science and engineering field;

Reverend Fenner Christian Kadalie, recognised posthumously for his dedicated service to the community of District Six and the Cape Flats through his ministry which took care of the poor and the marginalised;

Eminent human rights expert Prof John Dugard;

Former police officers and prominent TRC investigators Frank Dutton and Lwandle Wilson Magadla (posthumously);

Posthumous awards will be made to the co-founder of the ANC, Josiah Tshangana Gumede, and former ANC presidents Zaccheus Richard Mahabane, Sefako Mapogo Makgatho and Alfred Bitini Xuma;

Scientists Dr Patience Mthunzi and Prof Barry David Schoub; and

Platinum orders of the Boabab will also be awarded posthumously to former ANC presidents Oliver Tambo and Albert Luthuli.

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