The Decoration 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 in trying to save the life of another person, or by saving property, in or outside the Republic of South Africa.
This Order can be awarded in three categories:
- Category 1 = Gold
- Category 2 = Silver
- Category 3 = Bronze.
The shield, made from animal hide, particularly cattle, is processed and woven into an oval product of a very rigid surface and finished off with a wooden handle. The knobkierrie and the kpear complement the khield, which is given to visitors who come into our country from all over the world as a symbolic gesture of goodwill.
1. The SS Mendi - represents the courage of many black South African soldiers and their fellow white officers who drowned aboard the SS Mendi. The ship sank after being struck and almost cut in half by the SS Darro in the cold waters of the English Channel near the Isle of Wight on 21 February 1917. They were on their way to France to assist the British during the First World War.
2. The blue crane - the flight of the blue crane in the ocean skies above the SS Mendi symbolises the souls of the drowned brave soldiers. The blue crane's feathers were traditionally conferred to adorn brave warriors during colonial wars.
3. The green emerald - the core from which the three pointers emerge represents the way ahead in rendering assistance to those in need during natural disasters and other extreme difficulties that take place from time to time around the globe.
The holding shape
4. Lion - as a symbol of beauty, power and bravery, it is represented by its spoors around the edges of the holding shape. This indicates border patrols, within and beyond our country, by dedicated and brave South Africans. The three geographical pointers are represented by the integration of the flowers of the bitter aloe, an indigenous South African plant symbolic of resilience, survival and medicinal value.
5. Knobkierie and spear - complement the shield as symbols of defence and honour.