Malan, Gen Magnus SSA OMSG SD SM MMM - First recipient of the Order for Meritorious Service, in 1987. He was defence minister at the time and had previously been Chief of the SADF.
Mametja, Gold - Jewellery designer. He designed the 2002 Orders of Mapungubwe, of the Baobab, and of the Companions of O.R. Tambo.
Mandela, Nelson OMP OM - President 1994-99. He instituted the Presidential Sports Award (1994) and decorations for the former Azanian People's Liberation Army (1996) and Umkhonto weSizwe (1996). He was the first recipient of the Order of Mapungubwe (2002).
Mapungubwe - A civilisation which flourished in what is now the Limpopo province more than a thousand years ago. The archaeological artefacts, including a gold statuette of a rhinoceros, are among South Africa's national treasures, and the country's highest order has been named after Mapungubwe.
Mapungubwe, Order of - see Order of Mapungubwe.
Maritz, Cpl D.H. CM - He and Tpr H.B. Smit were the first recipients of the Army Cross, in 1992. They were decorated for helping to recover a disabled tank during the Battle of Tumpo in Angola in 1988.
Maxeke, Charlotte OLG - First (posthumous) recipient of the Order of Luthuli (2003). She was an early 20th-century campaigner for women's rights.
Mayor's Siege Medal - An unofficial medal issued by the Mayor of Kimberley, Henry Oliver, to those who had successfully defended the city during the 4-month-long Boer siege in 1899-1900. The original design (of which a few specimens exist) was a circular medal, but the final issue was a 6-pointed star.
Mbeki, Thabo - President 1999- He established the current honours system by instituting the Order of Mapungubwe, Order of the Baobab and Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo (2002), the SANDF decorations and medals (2003), the Order of Luthuli (2003), the Order of Ikhamanga (2003) and the Mendi Decoration for Bravery (2003), the SA Police Service decorations and medals (2004), and the Intelligence Services decorations and medals (2005).
Medal - An award which ranks lower than a decoration. There is no firm definition of the term, but is usually applied to awards for campaign service, commemoration awards, long service awards (some of which have the word "decoration" in their names), and shooting awards. Many medals are circular, but there are also other shapes, such as octagons and ovals. Most are 38mm (1½in) in diameter.
Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field (a.k.a. "Distinguished Conduct Medal") - A British military medal for distinguished and gallant conduct by other ranks, made available to the colonies in 1894. It was adopted by the Cape in 1896, by Natal in 1897, by the Transvaal in 1902, and by the Union of South Africa in 1914, and was discontinued in 1940. Only the Natal issue was ever awarded.
Medal for Faithful Service in the SAPS - Instituted in 1968, this medl was awarded to SA Prisons Service members (all ranks) after 18 years exemplary service. It was replaced by the DCS Medal for Faithful Service in 1980.
Medal for Faithful Service in the SARPF (1st Type) - This medal was instituted in 1966, and was awarded to SA Railways Police members (all ranks) after 18 years exemplary service. It was replaced in 1980 by a new medal of the same name.
Medal for Faithful Service in the SARPF (2nd Type) - Instituted in 1980, this medal was awarded to SA Railways Police members after 10 years exemplary service. It was discontinued in 1986.
Medal for Long Service & Good Conduct (Military) - The South African version of the British Army's long service medal, instituted in 1939 and awarded to Permanent Force other ranks after 18 years exemplary service. It was superseded by the Union Medal in 1952.
Medal for Loyal Service - see Medalje vir Troue Diens.
Medal for Meritorious Service in the SAPS - Instituted in 1968, this dual-purpose decoration was awarded to SA Prisons Service personnel for (i) particularly meritorious and exempkary service, or (ii) 35 years exemplary service. As most of the awards were in the latter category, the medal ranks as a long service medal. It was superseded by the DCS Medals for Merit in 1980.
Medalje vir Troue Diens - The "Medal for Loyal Service" is the current military long service medal, instituted in 2003 for SA National Defence Force members who complete 10 years exemplary service.
Melville, Gen Stephen SSA OBE - FIrst recipient of the Star of South Africa, in 1960. He was Commandant-General of the SADF 1958-60.
Mendi - A World War I troopship which sank in the English Channel in 1917, with the loss of more than 600 Black South African volunteers. The Order of Mendi for Bravery (2003) was named in honour of the tragedy.
Mendi Decoration for Bravery - see Order of Mendi for Bravery.
Mention in Despatches Emblem - Instituted in 1967 for acts of bravery during military operations which did not qualify for a decoration. It was replaced by the Okhankanyiweyo emblem in 2003. The bronze emblem (a miniature of the national coat of arms) was worn on the ribbon of the relevant campaign medal, e.g. the Pro Patria Medal.
Merit Medal in Bronze (MMB) - A 3rd-level decoration, instituted in 1996 for service of a high standard in Umkhonto weSizwe between 1961 and 1994.
Merit Medal in Silver (MMS) - A 2nd-level decoration, instituted in 1996 for exceptionally meritorious service in Umkhonto weSizwe between 1961 and 1994.
Meritorious Service Awards - Decorations which are awarded to recognise outstanding achievements and above-average performance of duty in the defence force, the police and, in the past, the railways police, correctional services and intelligence services. These honours rank after decorations for gallantry and before campaign medals. Most carry the privilege of using post-nominal letters.
Since 1975, there has been a clear hierarchy of three levels of awards, which are usually granted progressively and cumulatively from the third level upwards. As a result, the 1st-level awards usually go only to high-ranking officers and warrant officers. The decorations have been:
SA Defence Force: (1) Southern Cross Decoration, Pro Merito Decoration; (2) Southern Cross Medal, Pro Merito Medal, Danie Theron Medal, Jack Hindon Medal; (3) Military Merit Medal.
SA Police: (1) SAP Star for Outstanding Service; (2) SAP Star for Merit.
SA Railways Police Force: (1) Decoration for Outstanding Service in the SARPF; (2) Star for Merit in the SARPF.
Department of Correctional Services: (1) DCS Star for Merit, DCS Cross for Merit; (2) DCS Medal for Merit (Commissioned Officers), DCS Medal for Merit (Non-Commissioned Officers).
National Intelligence Service: (1) NIS Distinguished Service Medal in Gold, NIS Decoration in Gold; (2) NIS Distinguished Service Medal in Silver, NIS Civil Decoration, NIS Decoration in Silver; (3) NIS Distinguished Service Medal in Bronze, NIS Civil Medal, NIS Decoration in Bronze.
Azanian People's Liberation Army: (1) Gold Decoration for Merit; (2) Silver Medal for Merit; (3) Bronze Medal for Merit.
Umkhonto weSizwe: (1) Decoration for Merit in Gold; (2) Merit Medal in Silver; (3) Merit Medal in Bronze.
SA National Defence Force: (1) iPhrothiya yeGolide; (2) iPhrothiya yeSiliva; (3) iPhrothiya yeBhronzi.
SA Police Service: (1) SAPS Gold Medal for Oustanding Service; (2) SAPS Silver Medal for Outstanding Service; (3) SAPS Commendation Medal.
Intelligence Services: (1) IS Distinguished Service Medal (Gold); (2) IS Distinguished Service Medal (Silver); (3) IS Distinguished Service Medal (Bronze).
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Service: (1) MMPS Gold Decoration for Oustanding Service; (2) MMPS Silver Decoration for Outstanding Service; (3) MMPS Commendation Medal.
Meritorious Service, Order for - see Order for Meritorious Service.
Meston, Lt Col R.A. - First recipient of the King's Police Medal for Bravery, in 1938. He won the decoration by saving someone's life.
Military Decorations and Medals - Decorations and medals make up the bulk of the honours system. They were introduced in 1894, and have proliferated over the years. They comprise: (a) decorations for gallantry, (b) decorations for distinguished and meritorious service, (c) campaign medals, (d) commemorative medals, (e) long service medals, and (f) shooting medals.
In addition to the South African military forces, the four former "independent" African homelands inside the country also had defence forces. There have thus been several series of military awards: colonial forces (1894-1913), Union Defence Forces/SA Defence Force (1913-39, 1939-52, 1952-75, 1975-2003), ex-Boer republican forces (1920), Bophuthatswana Defence Force (1982-94), Venda Defence Force (1984-94), Transkei Defence Force (c1988-94), Ciskei Defence Force (1988-94), Azanian People's Liberation Army (1996), Umkhonto weSizwe (1996), and SA National Defence Force (2003- ).
Military Merit Medal (MMM) - This was instituted in 1974 as the CSADF Commendation Medal, and was renamed in 1993. It was the SA Defence Force's 3rd-level merit award, granted to all ranks for services of a high standard.
Miniatures - Full-sized decorations and medals are worn during daytime (up to 6pm), and miniatures are worn in the evening and at night. They are usually half (or sometimes one-third) the full size.
MK - Umkhonto weSizwe.
MMB - Post-nominal letters for the MK Merit Medal in Bronze.
MMM - Post-nominal letters for the Military Merit Medal.
MMS - Post-nominal letters for the MK Merit Medal in Silver.
MPBG - Post-nominal letters for the Municipal/Metropolitan Police Gold Cross for Bravery.
MPGS - Post-nominal letters for the Municipal/Metropolitan Police Gold Decoration for Outstanding Service.
MPSB - Post-nominal letters for the Municipal/Metropolitan Silver Cross for Bravery.
MPSS - Post-nominal letters for the Municipal/Metropolitan Silver Decoration for Outstanding Service.
Mokoena, Bishop Isaac OMSG - Apparently the first African to be awarded a high state honour: the Order for Meritorious Service in 1987.
Möller, Capt Andries HC (SAAF) - First recipient of the Honoris Crux (1st Type), in 1973. A helicopter pilot, he was decorated for evacuating casualties under enemy fire in South West Africa.
MONUC - see Congo, and Operations 'Mistral' and 'Teutonic'.
Mounting Medals - South Africa follows British practice. Decorations and medals which are worn on the chest are mounted in a single row, attached to a metal bar with a brooch fitting at the back. The row is usually not wider than 16cm (6½in), and if there are more medals than will fit side by side into that space, then they are overlapped, with the first medal in the row fully visible and the others partly covered by those in front of them.
The distance from the upper edge of the ribbon to the lower edge of the medal must be equal along the row, so ribbon lengths must be adjusted to accommodate different-sized medals. The minimum ribbon length is 32mm (1¼in). Since the mid-1990s, "court style" mounting, in which the ribbon is folded over to hang behind the medal as well as suspend it, has been popular (if not compulsory) in the defence force.
Mozambique Floods - Mozambique was devastated by a cyclone and floods in 2000. The SA National Defence Force carried out a relief mission (Operation 'Lichi'), which was awarded the Mendi Decoration in 2003.
Multiple-award Incidents - Over the years, there have been several incidents for which a large number of people have been awarded decorations for bravery or distinguished conduct. Those which generated ten or more have been: the Grand Magazine explosion in 1945 (17 decorations), the Westdene Dam bus crash in 1985 (29 decorations), Operation 'Coolidge' in 1987 (12 decorations), the Natal floods in 1987 (14 decorations), and the Oceanos sea rescue in 1991 (34 decorations).
Multiple-award Recipients - A number of men and women have been decorated more than once for gallantry, or for distinguished service to the country.
Those who have received more than one South African decoration for gallantry have been: Maj Arthur Walker HCG & Bar, Cmdt Cornelius Breytenbach HCS HC, and WO2 Johannes Conradie HC VRM.
Those who have received more than one South African order or high-ranking decoration for distinguished service to the country have been: President P.W. Botha SSA DMS, Gen Johan Coetzee SSA SED, Dr Wim de Villiers SSA DMS, Gen Magnus Malan SSA OMSG; Harry Oppenheimer OMSG DMS, Dr Johan Maree OMSG SSAS, Dr Anton Rupert OMSG DMS, Prof Philip Tobias OMSG OSS; F.W. de Klerk OMG DMS; Gary Player OIG DMS; Roelof ('Pik') Botha Grand Cross of the Order of Good Hope, DMS; Cmdt Piet Marais SSAS DMS, and Prof Charlotte Searle SSAS DMS.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Canine and Equine Cross for Bravery - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded to municipal and metropolitan police service dogs and horses, for acts of bravery.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Commendation Medal - A 3rd-level merit award, instituted in 2008, to be awarded to members of municipal and metropolitan police services for commendable service of a meritorious nature.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Gold Cross for Bravery (MPBG) - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded to members of municipal and metropolitan police services for acts of exceptional bravery in extremely dangerous circumstances.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Gold Decoration for Outstanding Service (MPGS) - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded municipal and metropolitan police service chiefs and deputy chiefs, for particularly meritorious or exemplary service.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Inauguration Medal - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded retrospectively to local authority law enforcement officers who qualified for appointment to the Municipal/Metropolitan Police Service in 1999.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Silver Decoration for Outstanding Service (MPSS) - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded to members of municipal and metropolitan police services, up to the rank of director, for meritorious or exemplary service.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Silver Cross for Bravery (MPSB) - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded to members of municipal and metropolitan police services for acts of bravery in dangerous circumstances.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Ten Year Loyal Service Medal - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded to members of municipal and metropolitan police services after 10 years irreproachable service.
Municipal/Metropolitan Police Thirty Year Loyal Service Medal - Instituted in 2008, to be awarded to members of municipal and metropolitan police services after 30 years irreproachable service.
MV - Post-nominal letters for the Intelligence Services Medal for Valour.
Naming - The names of recipients are inscribed on pre-1952 military decorations and medals, on pre-2004 police awards, on correctional services, railways police and national intelligence awards, and on the badges of the national orders. However, post-1952 military, post-1980 correctional services, and post-2004 police decorations and medals merely have serial numbers, which are controlled through registers which identify the recipients.
Natal - A British colony from 1843 until 1910, when it became a province of the Union of South Africa. Natalians were eligible for British honours and awards, and from 1894 the colonial government was authorised to grant the Distinguished Conduct Medal and military long service medals to the Natal Police and the Volunteer Force (later the Natal Militia).
Natal Colonial Forces - Natal's military forces consisted of the para-military Natal Police (formed in 1872) and a part-time Natal Militia (originally a volunteer force, formed in 1854). They were collectively designated "Natal Colonial Forces" in 1908. The NCF were eligible for British military decorations and medals, and from 1894 they had their own issues of the Distinguished Conduct Medal and long service medals. The NCF fought in the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War, the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, and the 1906 Natal Rebellion. The units were embodied in the Union Defence Forces in 1913.
The NCF had the following awards: Distinguished Conduct Medal, Volunteer Oficers' Decoration, Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration, Natal Native Rebellion Medal, Medal for Long Service & Good Conduct, Medal for Meritorious Service, Volunteer Long Service Medal, and Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal.
Natal Floods (1987) - A Woltemade Cross for Bravery in Silver, 12 SAP Crosses for Bravery, and a Civil Defence Medal for Bravery were awarded for rescuing people trapped in the floods which devastated the province in 1987.
Natal Native Rebellion Medal - Instituted in 1907 for the suppression of the previous year's Natal Rebellion. It was awarded to Cape and Transvaal units as well as to the Natal forces.
Natal Rebellion - An African uprising against harsh tax laws in Natal in 1906. It is also known as the "Bambatha Rebellion" after one of the leaders. It took the Natal Police and Natal Militia, with Cape and Transvaal military support, several months to restore order. The Natal Native Rebellion Medal was issued for service in the operation.
Natal Police - The para-military Natal Police, formed in 1872, was not only a police force but also the colony's full-time military force and it also ran the prisons. Members were eligible for military medals. The NP was incorporated into the Union Defence Forces in 1913.
National Cadet Bisley Grand Champion Medal - see Cadet Corps Champion Shot Medal.
National Coats of Arms - The Cape Colony coat of arms was depicted on the reverse of the Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal (1900). The South African Republic official arms were depicted on the obverse of the Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps Medal (1899) and on the Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst (1920) and ZAR en OVS Oorlogsmedalje (1920). The Orange Free State arms were also depicted on the latter two awards.
The South African national arms were first depicted on the obverse of the Prisons Good Service Medal (1922), and thereafter appeared on most medals. From 1952, they appeared on the reverses of defence force medals.
The new national arms have been depicted on the reverses (or, in one case, the obverse) of orders, decorations and medals instituted since 2002.
National Flag - The colours of national flags have been used on many medal ribbons. Those of the South African Republic (green, red, white, and blue) were used on the Johannesburg Vrywilliger Corps Medal (1899). The SAR colours and those of the Orange Free State (orange, red, white, and blue) were used on the ribbons of the three awards instituted in 1920 for Anglo-Boer War veterans, yellow being substituted for orange.
South Africa adopted an orange, white and blue national flag in 1928. The King's Medal for Bravery (1939) was the first to make use of two of its colours (orange and blue), and the SA Medal for War Services (1945) was the first to feature all three. Between 1952 and 1987 about three dozen ribbons were designed in various combinations of the three colours - they included the Southern Cross Medal (1952), the SA Police Star for Merit (1963), the State President's Sports Award (1967), the Decoration for Meritorious Service (1970), the Pro Patria Medal (1974), and the Order of the Southern Cross (1986) and the Order for Meritorious Service (1986).
The present national flag, introduced in 1994, is red, white, blue, green, yellow, and black. The first ribbon to feature them was that of the Presidential Sports Award (1994), and since then various combinations of those six colours have been used in some military ribbons, such as the Tshumelo Ikatelaho (2003) and the Medalje vir Troue Diens (2003).
National Intelligence Service - Founded in the early 1960s as Republican Intelligence, this organisation went through several changes of name in the 1960s and '70s before becoming the National Intelligence Service in 1980. It was disbanded in 1994 to make way for two new services. Decorations and medals were instituted for the NIS in 1981. They are unusual in that, because of the nature of the service, recipients' names were never announced and it appears that insignia could not be worn in public.
The awards for NIS personnel were: NIS Decoration for Distinguished Leadership, Decoration for Outstanding Leadership, Cross for Valour (Gold), Cross for Valour (Silver), Medal for Distinguished Service, and Medal for Faithful Service. For "civilians" there were the NIS Civil Decoration and Civil Medal. For members of foreign intelligence services, there was the NIS Decoration.
National Orders - Since 1986, the South African orders of merit have collectively been known as the National Orders. The Woltemade Cross for Bravery was also included in the description, though it was a decoration rather than an order. The orders are administered by the Chancery of Orders.
National Parks Board - This statutory body has (or had?) its own decoration, the 3-class Kruger Cross for Bravery, introduced in 1988. Presidential approval is required to wear it with official state awards.
Naudé, Tom - Acting state president 1967-68. He instituted the SA Prisons Service decorations (1968).
Navy Cross (CA) - Instituted in 1991, this was awarded to navy personnel for exceptional courage, leadership, skill or ingenuity in dangerous or critical situations. It was discontinued in 2003.
Naylor, E. - Designer of the 1943 Africa Service Medal.
NB - Post-nominal letters for the Nkwe ya Boronse.
Neck Ribbon - The badges of the first three classes of the national orders are worn around the neck. So are the insignia of several high-ranking decorations: Castle of Good Hope Decoration, Star of SA, SAP Cross for Bravery (1st Type), SARP Cross for Valour, State President's Sports Award, Decoration for Meritorious Service, SA Sports Merit Award, SAP Star for Distinguished Leadership, SAP Star for Distinguished Service (2nd Type), DCS Star for Excellence, SARP Star for Distinguished Leadership, SARP Star for Distinguished Devotion, NIS Decoration for Distinguished Leadership, Woltemade Cross for Bravery, and the current Presidential Sports Award.
Nel, 2Lt Dirk LWD - He and Sgt Willem van Aswegen were the first recipients of the Louw Wepener Decoration, in 1961. They were decorated for climbing aboard a burning armoured car, at a public display, to rescue the crew and extinguish the fire before the vehicle's ammunition could explode.
Next of Kin - Since the 1920s, if not earlier, it has been customary for relatives of deceased servicemen and -women to wear the deceased's medals, on the right side of the chest, at Remembrance Day and other memorial occasions. Technically, it is not legal to wear someone else's medals, but in this context it is accepted as a mark of respect.
NG - Post-nominal letters for the Nkwe ya Gauta.
Nienaber, Sgt J.R. PCF - The first (posthumous) recipient of the SAP Cross for Bravery, in 1964. He was decorated for sacrificing his life in an attempt to save a man from drowning in the sea.
NIS - National Intelligence Service.
NIS Civil Decoration - Instituted in 1981 for "civilians", i.e. non-NIS personnel, who rendered exceptional service to the NIS. It became obsolete in 1994.
NIS Civil Medal - This medal was added in 1990, for "civilians" who rendered above-average service to the NIS. It too lapsed in 1994.
NIS Cross for Valour (Gold) (CV) - This 2nd-level decoration was instituted in 1981, for outstanding heroism by NIS members while in extreme danger. It became obsolete in 1994.
NIS Cross for Valour (Silver) (CVS) - A 3rd-level decoration, added in 1987 to recognise outstanding heroism while in great danger. This decoration too lapsed in 1994.
NIS Decoration for Distinguished Leadership (OD) - This was the highest-ranking NIS award, instituted in 1981 and granted to officers in the top four grades for distinguished leadership, outstanding service, and exceptional contributions to state security. It became obsolete in 1994.
NIS Decoration for Outstanding Leadership (ED) - This decoration, instituted in 1981, was awarded to officers in the top seven grades, for outstanding leadership and service and exceptional contributions in developing branches of the NIS. It became obsolete in 1994.
NIS Medal for Distinguished Service (Bronze) (OOB) - Instituted in 1987, this 3rd-level medal was awarded to NIS members for above-average service and diligence. It was also known as the Leyds Medal for Merit. It lapsed in 1994.
NIS Medal for Distinguished Service (Gold) (OO) - This 1st-level medal, also added in 1987, was awarded to NIS personnel for outstanding service and utmost diligence. It became obsolete in 1994.
NIS Medal for Distinguished Service (Silver) (OOS) - This 2nd-level medal was instituted in 1981, and was awarded to NIS members for exceptional service and extraordinary diligence. It too lapsed in 1994.
Nkomo, Sam MDS - First recipient of the Mendi Decoration for Bravery (Silver) in 2003. He was decorated for saving a tourist from eight angry elephants in a game reserve.
Nkwe ya Boronse (NB) - The current 3rd-level military decoration for gallantry, the "Bronze Leopard" was instituted in 2003 for bravery by SA National Defence Force members during military operations.
Nkwe ya Gauta (NG) - Now the highest South African military decoration, the "Golden Leopard" was instituted in 2003 for exceptional bravery by SA National Defence Force personnel during military operations.
Nkwe ya Selefera (NS) - The "Silver Leopard" is the 2nd-level military gallantry award, instituted in 2003 for conspicuous bravery by SA National Defence Force members during military operations.
NS - Post-nominal letters for the Nkwe ya Selefera.
Obverse - The front side of a decoration or medal, worn facing outwards.
Oceanos Sea Rescue (1991) - A successful air force and naval operation to rescue 402 passengers from the sinking cruise liner Oceanos. It yielded more decorations than any other single event in South Africa: an Honoris Crux Gold, an Honoris Crux Silver and four Honoris Cruxes to navy personnel, and 27 Air Force Crosses to helicopter aircrew. Twelve years later, the new Mendi Decoration for Bravery was awarded collectively to the rescue operation.
OD - Post-nominal letters for the NIS Decoration for Distinguished Leadership ("Optimi Ductus").
O'Ehley, WO F.E. CPF - First recipient of the SA Prisons Service Cross for Valour (Ruby), in 1982. He was decorated for single-handedly breaking up a prison fight, being stabbed in the process.
Okhankanyiweyo - The current 4th-level military award, instituted in 2003 for SA National Defence Force members who are mentioned in despatches for bravery or meritorious conduct, leadership, devotion to duty or praiseworthy service during military operations. The bronze emblem (the new national coat of arms) is worn on the ribbon of the relevant campaign medal.
OLM - Post-nominal letters for the Intelligence Services Outstanding Leadership Medal.
OMSG - Post-nominal letters for the first class of the Order for Meritorious Service.
OMSS - Post-nominal letters for the second class of the Order for Meritorious Service.
OO - Post-nominal letters for the NIS medal for Distinguished Service: Gold ("Officii Optimi").
OOB - Post-nominal letters for the NIS Medal for Distinguished Service: Gold ("Officii Optimi Bronze").
OOS - Post-nominal letters for the NIS Medal for Distinguished Service: Silver ("Officii Optimi Silver").
Operation 'Askari' (1983-84) - An extensive SA Defence Force operation against People's Liberation Army of Namibia bases in southern Angola. It was one of the cross-border operations for which the Southern Africa Medal was later authorised.
Operation 'Bata' (2007) - The SA National Defence Force was called up to run hospitals and other public facilities during a protracted civil service strike in 2007. This service is covered by the Tshumelo Ikatelaho medal.
Operation 'Blue Wildebeest' (1966) - A SA Police airborne raid (with SA Defence Force support) on a People's Liberation Army of Namibia base in northern South West Africa, which was the first action in the 23-year-long Border War. It was later covered by the SAP Medal for Combating Terrorism (and, presumably, by the Pro Patria Medal).
Operation 'Coolidge' (1987) - A dozen Honoris Cruxes were awarded to a special forces combat swimming team for blowing up a bridge, under enemy fire and in crocodile-infested waters, in Angola.
Operation 'Espresso' (2000- ) - The SA National Defence Force contribution to the African Union and United Nations missions (OLMEE and UNMEE) in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Operation 'Fibre' (2001- ) - The SA National Defence Force contribution to the African Union and United Nations missions (AMIB and UNOB) in Burundi.
Operation 'Lichi' (2000) - The SA National Defence Force flood relief operation in Mozambique. The rescue team was collectively awarded the Mendi Decoration for Bravery in 2003.
Operations 'Mistral' and 'Teutonic' (1999- ) - The SA National Defence Force contribution to the United Nations mission (MONUC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Operations 'Moduler', 'Hooper', 'Packer' and 'Displace' (1987-88) - The successive phases of the second SA Defence Force campaign in Angola, in support of UNITA against Cuban-backed Angolan government forces. They were covered by the Southern Africa Medal.
Operation 'Montego' (2003- ) - The SA National Defence Force contribution to the United Nations mission (UNMIL) in Liberia.
Operation 'Protea' (1981) - An SA Defence Force operation against People's Liberation Army of Namibia bases in southern Angola. The Southern Africa Medal was later authorised for it.
Operation 'Reindeer' (1978) - The SA Defence Force's first airborne attack, on Cassinga in Angola. It is one of the cross-border operations for which the Southern Africa Medal was authorised.
Operations 'Rekstok' and 'Safraan' (1979) - Two co-ordinated SA Defence Force raids on People's Liberation Army of Namibia camps in southern Angola and southern Zambia. The Southern Africa Medal was later authorised for them.
Operation 'Savannah' (1975-76) - The SA Defence Force operation in support of UNITA and the FNLA in the war for post-independence control of Angola. The campaign medal was the Pro Patria Medal with "Cunene" clasp.
Operation 'Sceptic' (a.k.a. 'Smokeshell') (1980) - An SA Defence Force mechanised operation against People's Liberation Army of Namibia bases in southern Angola. It was covered by the Southern Africa Medal.
Operational Service Medal for Southern Africa - A campaign medal instituted in 2000(?) for Azanian People's Liberation Army and uMkhonto weSizwe veterans who had served in military operations outside South Africa between 1961 and 1994. It corresponds to the SADF's Southern Africa Medal.
Orange Free State - The Boer republic established in the region between the Orange and Vaal Rivers in 1854. Although its relations with Great Britain - the dominant power in the region - were fairly smooth, it sided with the South African Republic in the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War, ended up on the losing side, and became a British colony in 1902. In 1910, it became a province of the Union of South Africa. The OFS had no official honours system, but its Anglo-Boer War veterans were eventually provided for in 1920 with the institution of the Dekoratie voor Trouwe Dienst, the Zuidafrikaansche Republiek en Oranje Vrijstaat Oorlogs-medalje, and the Lint voor Verwonding.
Orders - From 1814, South Africans were eligible for British orders for distinguished and meritorious service, and they featured in the annual honours lists from the mid-1870s until the mid-1920s. The first proposal to establish a South African order (the "Order of the Golden Eagle") was made in the South African Republic in 1894, but it failed because public opinion was against it. This Afrikaner prejudice persisted well into the 20th century, and was responsible for the cessation of nominations for British orders in 1925. The Orders of the Bath and of the British Empire were conferred again during World War II, but almost exclusively on military officers.
When South Africa established its own honours system in 1952, awards which should have been orders were called "decorations", though they were worn on neck ribbons like the badges of orders. It was not until 1973 that the first order - the Order of Good Hope - was finally established. Others followed, and in 1986 they were centralised under a Chancery of Orders and collectively labelled the National Orders. A new series of orders was established in 2002-03 to replace the nationalist-era honours. The president is the patron of each order and is ex officio a member of its highest class while he serves as president.
Orders are conferred for achievements and services to the country (or, in the case of the Western Cape provincial honours, to the province). They are divided into 2-5 classes, some simply called "gold", "silver" and "bronze", while others have been given the traditional European designations of "grand cross", "grand officer", "commander", "officer", and "member". Recipients of the higher classes of the orders are authorised to use post-nominal letters.
The national orders of the "old" South Africa were: Order of the Southern Cross, Order of the Star of SA (Military), Order of the Star of SA (Non-Military), Order for Meritorious Service, and Order of Good Hope.
The current national orders are: Order of Mapungubwe, Order of Mendi for Bravery, Order of the Baobab, Order of Luthuli, Order of Ikhamanga, and Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo. The only provincial order is the Order of the Disa, in the Western Cape.
The four "independent" homelands also had orders, which became obsolete when the homelands were reincorporated into South Africa in 1994: the Order of the Aloe (Transkei 1976-94), Order of the Leopard (Bophuthatswana 1977-94), Order of Thohoyandou (Venda 1979-94), Order of Indwe (Ciskei 1981-94), Order of Ntaba ka Ndoda (Ciskei 1981-94), and Order of Transkei (1987-94).
Order of Good Hope - The first South African order, instituted in 1973 for foreign citizens who promoted international relations with South Africa. It was briefly (1980-88) open to South African citizens too. The order originally consisted of a special class (Grand Collar) and four classes: Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander,and Officer. In 1988, the Grand Collar was discontinued and a Member class was added. The order was superseded by the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in 2002.
Order of Ikhamanga - Instituted in 2003, to recognise achievements in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sport (which were initially covered by the Order of the Baobab). The order has three classes: Gold (OIG), Silver (OIS), and Bronze (OIB).
Order of Luthuli - Instituted in 2003, to recognise contributions to the struggle for democracy, human rights, nation-building, justice and peace, and conflict resolution. The order is awarded in three classes: Gold (OLG), Silver (OLS), and Bronze (OLB). Recipients have included leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle, political activists, and trade unionists.
Order of Mapungubwe - Currently South Africa's highest order, instituted in 2002 to honour achievements in the international arena in the interests of South Africa. The order originally had three classes: Platinum (OMP), Gold (OMG), and Bronze (OMB), to which a fourth - Silver (OMS) - was added in 2004. So far, the order has been confined to statesmen and scientists.
Order of Mendi for Bravery - Instituted in 2003 as the Mendi Decoration for Bravery, and renamed as an order in 2004. It is awarded in three classes - Gold (OMBG), Silver (OMBS), and Bronze (OMBB) - to civilians and military personnel for bravery in saving lives.
Order of the Baobab - This order was instituted in 2002, to recognise service to South Africa in business and the economy, science, medicine, technology, community service and, until 2003, the fields now covered by the Orders of Luthuli and of Ikhamanga. It has three classes: Supreme Counsellor (SCOB), Grand Counsellor (GCOB), and Counsellor (COB).
Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo - Instituted in 2002 for foreign citizens who promote international relations with South Africa, or South African interests and aspirations. The order has three classes: Supreme Companion, Grand Companion, and Companion.
Order of the Disa - One of the Western Cape provincial honours instituted in 1999. It is awarded for meritorious service in the interests of the province and has three classes: Commander, Officer, and Member. Recipients have included religious leaders, political activists, and prominent figures in arts, culture, sport, commerce, and industry.
Order of the Golden Eagle - The order that never was: it was devised in 1894 by the South African Republic government as a civil and military order of merit in five classes. Regulations were published and insignia were designed - but the republic's legislature vetoed the creation of the order after finding that public opinion was opposed to something so "monarchical". The designs for the insignia were eventually used, more than fifty years later, for the Honoris Crux.
Order of the Southern Cross - Instituted in 1986 as the country's highest order, honouring achievements which served South Africa's interests. It had two classes: Gold (OSG) and Silver (OSS). The order was seldom conferred, and it was superseded by the Order of Mapungubwe in 2002. Most of the recipients were scientists.
OSG - Post-nominal letters for the first class of the Order of the Southern Cross.
OSS - Post-nominal letters for the second class of the Order of the Southern Cross.
"Ouma's Garter" - Nickname for the Africa Service Medal ribbon. "Ouma" (i.e. "Granny") Smuts was the very popular wife of the World War II prime minister, FM Jan Smuts.