Prof Thuli Madonsela, Chair in Social Justice at Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Law, has been appointed as Knight of the Legion of Honour, by French President Emmanuel Macron (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur).
The French Legion of Honour celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished individuals, irrespective of sex, social background and nationality. Viewed as the highest decoration in France, it was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
The categories of the Order include the degrees Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur(Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer), and Grand-Croix (Grand Cross). Former President Nelson Mandela is a Grand-Croix recipient – in 1994.
Other South African recipients
Previous South African recipients of the degree Chevalier (Knight) include Nadine Gordimer, Ahmed Kathrada, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mamphela Ramphele, Miriam Makeba, André P. Brink and Zanele Muholi. One of the knighthoods famous recipients is famous soccer legend Zinedine Zidane.
The title to Madonsela was conferred by Macron on 20 November 2020. The official ceremony to bestow the insignia on Madonsela will take place as soon as the COVID-19 situation eases significantly on a date to be mutually agreed between the French Ambassador to South Africa, Aurelien Lechevallier and Madonsela. An announcement to this effect will be made as soon as the date is set.
In his letter to Madonsela, Ambassador Lechevallier said that Madonsela is honoured in recognition of her remarkable achievements in defence of the rule of law and the fight against corruption in South Africa.
Says Madonsela: “I can’t find the right words to express the depth of my gratitude to the President and people of France for this immense honour. As indicated in respect of previous awards, I do my work to add value to humanity out of love and gratitude for the privileges life and humanity have given me and in pursuit of my duties. However, a recognition of this magnitude does inspire immense gratitude while spotlighting my work on social justice, the rule of law and ethical governance. I believe it comes from a place of appreciating our interconnectedness as humanity though separated by oceans and borders.”
Madonsela added that she accepted the honour on behalf of the Public Protector Team that worked with her in the pursuit of ethical and accountable government for seven years.