Commander Leon Steyn, SA Naval Museum

The Navy Cross (South Africa); post-nominal letters CN (Crux Navalis); was a military decoration, instituted in 1987 to replace the Honoris Crux decoration and awarded to members of the South African Navy for bravery, exceptional courage, leadership, or skill in dangerous or critical situations.  The award was discontinued in 2003, but backdated awards can still be made for acts of bravery during this period.

The first award of the Navy Cross was made by Chief of the Navy Vice-Admiral Robert Simpson-Anderson at a parade in Pretoria on 15 August 1994.  Petty Officer Leon Barnard and Able Seaman Anthony Doult of SAS SIMONSBERG were the first recipients, for their outstanding individual efforts to save lives during a rescue operation from 10 to 13 September 1993, after the tender VOORTREKKER capsized in heavy seas off Mossel Bay.

Lieutenant Sidney Minnaar of SAS HUGO BIERMANN was the first; on paper; to be awarded the Navy Cross, although three other members were physically handed their medals before Minnaar was available to attend a parade in 1996.  In October 1994 Lt Minaar was the designated  “oscarman” or diver on duty on the submarine SAS MARIA VAN RIEBEECK during Red Lion exercises off the West coast.  He saved two heavily laden recces that had fallen overboard after their rubber duck had overturned in heavy seas and in darkness. They were drifting towards the submarine’s propellers and in danger of drowning.

A total of thirty-five (35) Navy Cross decorations were awarded between 1994 and 2007.   (details & citations of all NC awards will be published in the forthcoming “SA Navy – 25 years of democracy” publication) 




WO2 LJ BARNARD 1994/04/22 125/1994
LS A DOULT 1994/04/22 125/1994
LT CDR S MINNAAR 1996/06/18 316/1996
S LT L WOODING 1996/06/18 316/1996
WO1 CD TANCREL 1996/06/18 316/1996
CDR DJH NORMAN 2000/09/20 455/2000
PO F MOTSOENYANE 2000/09/20 455/2000
LS WP SWART 2000/09/20 455/2000
LT CDR JR PALMER 2000/09/29 450/2000
WO2 JD STEPHENSON 2000/09/29 450/2000
CPO NM HICKS 2000/09/29 450/2000
CPO PL JACOBS 2000/09/29 450/2000
CPO RB MARNITZ 2000/09/29 450/2000
CPO MFJ NEL 2000/09/29 450/2000
CPO WS ZARRY 2000/09/29 450/2000
LS AC BUYS 2000/09/29 450/2000
LS SC FERGUSON 2000/09/29 450/2000
LS L PRICE 2000/09/29 450/2000
CDR RW HENDERSON 2001/10/26 671/2001
S LT JCI UYS 2001/10/26 671/2001
WO1 JH ENGELBRECHT 2001/10/26 671/2001
CPO NC SMITH 2001/10/26 671/2001
LS CF SCHOULTZ 2001/12/31 580/2001
LS H VAN WYK 2001/12/31 580/2001
LT CDR MF SCHOEMAN 2003/06/12 206/2003
WO1 A STANDER 2004/04/13 135/2004
WO2 A PRINSLOO 2004/04/13 135/2004
CPO MN JAFFAR 2004/08/11 318/2004
CPO TP PRONK 2006/07/08 285/2006
PO MD MAHLWELE 2006/07/08 285/2006
WO2 RP HUGHES 2007/02/16 046/2007
CDR WW COMBRINK 2007/12/27 397/2007
WO2 GSM LEWIS 2007/12/27 397/2007
CPO JM FRIESLAAR 2007/12/27 397/2007
CPO DC WILLIAMS 2007/12/27 397/2007

denotes last rank held by member

҂  does not reflect date of actual medal parade, but date promulgated

$ details & citations of all NC awards will be published in the forthcoming “SA Navy 25 years of democracy” publication.


The Nkwe Ya Boronse – Bronze Leopard (post nominal letters NB) was instituted on 16 April 2003 to replace the Army Cross, Air Force Cross and Navy Cross.  It is the junior of a set of three military decorations for bravery along with the Nkwe ya Gauta – Golden Leopard (NG) and Nkwe ya Selefera – Silver Leopard (NS).  The Nkwe ya Boronse can be awarded to all ranks of the South African National Defence Force and of any Auxiliary Service of the SANDF, who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of bravery on a single occasion or over a period of time during military operations, or for exceptional combat leadership.  A total of fourteen Nkwe Ya Boronze – Bronze Leopard (NB)  have been awarded to members of the SANDF to date, with three of the awards going to SA Navy members.

WO1 J VAN NIEUWHOLTZ 2008/08/25 001 216/2008
WO2 I DU PLESSIS 2008/08/25 002 216/2008
CPO NC SMITH 2008/08/25 003 216/2008

Chief Petty Officer N.C. Smith, Warrant Class 2 (later WO1) I. du Plessis and Warrant Officer Class 1 J. van Nieuwholtz  were awarded the Nkwe Ya Boronze – Bronze Leopard (NB) decoration at a C Navy medal in Simon’s Town on 27 November 2008.  The SAS SIMONSBERG members were attached to Operation BAPSISA that involved the clearing of live ordnance on 26 and 27 March 2007, following the explosion of the national armory in Maputo Mozambique.


The author would like to thank Cdr Nonnakai Warricker (Navy Office), Mr Deon Abrahams (SITA) and Mrs Bonnie Tissong (MIT) for their valuable assistance to corroborate the lists of bravery awards to SA Navy members.