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Michael Janse van Rensburg (Posthumous)

The Order of Mendi for Bravery in

Michael Janse van Rensburg (Posthumous) Awarded for:
Displaying an act of bravery, courage and fearlessness by putting his life in danger to save the life of a fellow human being who was drowning.
Profile of Michael Janse van Rensburg

Many acts of human bravery that occur on a day-to-day basis often go unnoticed and are not afforded the recognition they deserve. One such act was of a young man by the name of Michael Janse van Rensburg who sacrificed his life to save those of others as young as himself.

Janse van Rensburg, a first-year Accounting student at the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus, had treated his mother, Driekie, to a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed on that Sunday morning before going to play golf with his friend Hendrik. Little did they know that it would be the last Mother’s Day they would celebrate together.

On that dreadful day in May 2010, which led to Janse van Rensburg losing his life in an act of bravery, he was about to cross the bridge that the golfers normally use on the golf course, when they saw two boys playing in the strong current but then realised that the boys were actually drowning. 

One of the boys was slowly going under the water and was on the verge of drowning. Hendrik tried to persuade Michael not to go into the water as the current was immensely strong and the water was forming whirlpools.

At that stage, one of the boys managed to swim ashore. Without hesitation, Janse van Rensburg dived into the turbulent water and swam to the other boy. He managed to lift his head up to get oxygen. He held onto the boy and got hold of a piece of metal that was hanging over the spruit’s wall.

Michael clung onto the metal and tried to get out of the river with the boy. He realised that the current was too strong and managed to throw the boy from his position to the side of the river. The boy was able to get out of the strong flowing water to safety.

Janse van Rensburg tried a few times to get out but the water was too strong and he was dragged under. He died a hero’s death as he saved the life of another human being.

Michael Janse van Rensburg was born on 25 June 1991 in Phalaborwa and passed away on 9 May 2010 at the tender age of 19. He paid the ultimate price – his life – for that of a stranger.