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.
Madonsela is being honoured in recognition of her remarkable achievements in defence of the rule of law and the fight against corruption in SA.
The Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur (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.
Previous South African recipients of the degree Chevalier include Nadine Gordimer, Ahmed Kathrada, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mamphela Ramphele, Miriam Makeba, André P Brink and Zanele Muholi.
One of the knighthood’s famous recipients is soccer legend Zinedine Zidane, who led the French to World Cup glory in 1998.
Stellenbosch University said in a statement that the official ceremony to bestow the insignia on Madonsela would take place as soon as the Covid-19 situation eases significantly, on a date to be mutually agreed between the French ambassador to SA, Aurélien Lechevallier, and Madonsela. An announcement will be made as soon as the date is set.
Madonsela said: “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.
“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.
“I also accept the award on behalf of my colleagues at Stellenbosch University, with whom we are pioneering research, policy reform and civic mobilisation on social justice, with the hope of catalysing progress towards ending poverty and reducing structural inequality by 2030 in line with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I also accept it on behalf of my Thuma Foundation colleagues, who are mostly volunteers dedicating their time and resources towards making democracy work for all through democracy leadership and literacy.”