Seven South African Indians get National Orders

Seven South African Indians get National Orders

Seven South African Indians get National Orders

An unprecedented seven Indian-origin-South Africans have been presented with South Africa's highest civilian awards by President Jacob Zuma.

The seven-Indians were among the 38 recipients of the National Orders, the highest awards the President can bestow on citizens and foreign nationals.

It is presented on the Freedom Day that is celebrated on April 27 to mark the day on which Nelson Mandela took over as the country's first democratically-elected President in 1994.

Among the recipients of the order was veteran Indian diplomat Enuga Reddy who had led the fight against apartheid at the UN since 1963.

The second highest award called the Order of the Baobab was presented to Lenasia-based community worker Suraya Khan, popularly known to all as "Aunty Bibi", while the same order in Silver went to journalist and community activist Yusuf Abramjee and pioneering skin cloning plastic surgeon Dr Ridwan Mia.

"I am truly humbled. This award does not belong to me. It really does not. It belongs to all the women who go out into communities to help other women," said Khan.

"My parents always told us - It's not about money it's about service to the community. We will fail the legacy of all the recipients if we don't continue serving the poor in our society. I've used my skills as a plastic surgeon to do just that," added Mia.

"Over the years I have received many awards, many praises, many accolades, but I think this one is certainly something that I will treasure," said Abramjee said.

Along with Reddy, Jesses Jackson veteran US human rights activist, and former Jamaican President Percival James Patterson were also awarded with Orders.

Zarina Hutchinson collected the Order of Luthuli in Silver awarded posthumously to her mother Amina Desai who was banned for many years in South Africa before eventually going to Ireland.

"It was a very emotional moment. My mother was a feminist to her dying day and a firm believer in human rights. I put that on her gravestone in Dublin. She was born a Muslim and died a Muslim, but didn't believe that it was mutually exclusive and that it was possible to be a feminist as well, like many other Muslim feminists in this world," Hutchinson said.

Also receiving the Order of Luthuli in Silver were struggle veterans Essop Jassat and Moosa "Mosie" Moolla, former South African ambassador to Pakistan.

"We didn't do what we did to get the Order, but because we felt that we had to fight the injustices that there were in this country. We suffered, but we didn't want this to be repeated for our children," Jassat said.

"We played our part and it's good to get recognition, but the important thing is that the objective of a free South Africa has been attained and we must build on it," Moolla said.

Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim received the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze for her internationally acclaimed research into HIV Aids.

"This award is validation for the work being done by lots of teams across the country in the important challenge facing us. Having that recognised at this level is incredibly important, because we have a lot more work to do and hopefully it will inspire other people to join the efforts already under way to prevent HIV infections and the consequences of being infected," Abdool Karim said.

Laila Turkmore-Reddy, daughter of veteran diplomat Enuga Reddy, who started the fight against apartheid led by India in 1948 at the UN and continued to do so for many decades, received the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver on his behalf.

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