Gert Sibande Honours its Stars

netballJUNE  8, 2012 will go down as one of the coldest nights in the country, but not for people who  were honoured by Gert Sibande District Municipality.

With temperatures dipping below zero degrees in Ermelo, the wintry night didn’t deter those who were packed in the Mayoral Excellence Awards at the Gert Sibande District Municipality offices when Acting Executive Mayor Councillor Tunu Agnes Mnisi honoured individuals and groups who continue to fly the district’s flag high.

The Executive Mayor Councillor Tunu Agnes Mnisi and her immaculately dressed Members of Mayoral Committee were at hand to honour those who continue to excel in different spheres – be it in sports, education, netball, cultural activities and service delivery.

The participating crowd gave Orlando Pirates defender Rooi Mahamutsa a standing ovation when he was called to the stage. His special moment was when he won two Absa Premiership league medals within 24 months and four cup medals within that space of time. He was given a Special Award by Councillor TA Mnisi for his efforts and for making history with Pirates, who turned 70 this year.

In the same category of Special Award, Mahamutsa, who comes from Standerton, won with the likes of May Mahlangu from eMbalenhle township in Secunda.

Bafana Bafana player Mahlangu, who plies his trade in Sweden for Helsingborg FC, was voted the Swedish Player of the Year 2010/2011. In the same season, he won a League and Cup Double.

Gert Sibande District Municipality honoured all of the seven local municipalities stars who are making the region one of the most successful yet underrated districts in South Africa.

Another soccer player who was rewarded for flying South Africa’s flag high in overseas leagues was former Bidvest Wits striker Clavin Kadi from eMbalenhle, who plies his trade in Portugal for Veria FC.

Coach Owen Da Gama, who was popularly known as Rubber Doll during his playing days, has coached top PSL teams like Orlando Pirates, Bloemfontein Celtic, Platinum Stars and the now defunct Silver Stars. He comes from Volksrust in Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Municipality.

Other Special Award nominees were Dr Mark Lawrence, who is an optometrist, was a World Cup referee.

This Standerton resident an international, debuted his international test match in 2000. He was chosen to officiate at both the 2003 Rugby World Cup and 2007 Rugby World Cup. He also officiated in the 2007 Currie Cup Final between the Free State Cheetahs and the Golden Lions.

In the Special Award category, Chris Nkambule, an opera singer from Volksrust, and Fisiwe Zwane from Standerton, who represented the U/20 Springbok Women last year in the USA, were both honoured.

The youngest winners on the night were Refilwe Makola who won a gold medal after she broke the Under 9 record event of 80 metres and Matthew Golden for winning gold in athletics. Both athletes turned nine this year.

Councillor Mnisi said: “Gert Sibande District has stolen the world spotlight before - during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, and as we approach the London Olympics in a month’s time, I want us to think of Josiah Thugwane who won a Gold medal in a marathon during the ’96 Games.”

She added: “Gert Sibande District is home to the late Reggae icon Lucky Dube and Josiah Thugwane who have both made us proud at the international arena.”

The District is also home to other soccer players who were honoured on the night like: Sibusiso Hadebe from Sakhile in Standerton (Golden Arrows), Sihle Mpuqa and Coldrin Coetzee both from Sakhile and Free State Stars’ players, Nhlanhla Shabalala (Ajax Cape Town), Bafana Sibeko from eMbalenhle (Black Leopards), Driefontein duo Mthokozisi Yende (Kaizer Chiefs) and Sifiso Vilakazi (Bidvest Wits University), Jomo Cosmos’ Ntokozo Shabalala and Orlando Pirates trio of Lizo Mjempu, Steven Sibusiso Mnguni and Bheki Nzunga – who all hail form eMbalenhle.

Councillor Mnisi also said the people in the district should not forgot those who made Gert Sibande a recognisable region with hidden talent.

“In rugby, we have the Mentz brothers – Hendrix and MJ who have represented us in the Super Rugby and Springboks Sevens, respectively. These two gentlemen are following on the footsteps of their father, Hein Mentz, who is also the president of Mpumalanga Rugby Union.

“How can we forget that our District competed even during the days of the so-called bubblegum music when Zizi Kongo flew our flag when the music scene was dominated by the likes of Brenda Fassie,” she said to loud applause.

In honouring those passed with flying colours during the Grade 12 exams last year, she said “let us build this university here at Gert Sibande so that our top learners can no longer travel long distances to pursue their careers and future. Let us jealously guard against that and protect our talent”.

The district’s top students are: Gerald Jonker (seven distinctions), Emile Ayanda Hlophe (seven disctinctions), Imke Birgit Engelbrecht (eight disctinctions), Sizwe Amos Mkhatshwa (six distinctions) and Grade 11 best debate learner (urban).

Teachers who were honoured for their outstanding performances are: Ms M De Beer, Mr MS Hlathswayo,  Ms MI Robbertse, Ms Nyandeni  Maria Bonakele and Mr AN Nkambule.

Local municipalities were also recognised for their hard work and service delivery. Msukaligwa won for a clean audit which was an unqualified report, followed by Govan Mbeki with the same status and Dipaleseng got third place for a moving from disclaimer to qualified audit.

The night closed when Mpumalanga Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe was handed a Special Award by Councillor TA Mnisi for an outstanding performance when his department received a Clean Audit.

He also established a special Task Team Unit (known as the red berets), which stopped all gangsters in the province, particularly Ama 14 from eMkhondo. He also stopped all service delivery protests in the province. The provincial Chief Whip said he had maximum participation in the Legislature as an MEC.

Entertainers for the night were:  Jandrell Secondary School, 1000 Kings, Qhubulwazi High School, African Serenade, Sicelo Macu Band and Siyanqoba Performance Arts.

Master of Ceremonies JZ Sambo had guests in stitches every time he cracked jokes. He even paid tribute to the late kwaito singer Brown Dash of Puff & Pass fame.


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