A Lentegeur father accepted a national bravery award on behalf of his teen son who was killed while shielding a stranger at a birthday party.
Chad Basson, 19, was posthumously honoured by President Cyril Ramaphosa with an Order of Mendi for Bravery, awarded to South Africans who have performed acts of bravery, at the presentation of National Orders, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House, in Pretoria, on Thursday November 18.
Mr Ramaphosa said the recipients of this award often put their lives in great danger or lost their lives in their efforts to save others.
“The awards are made to people who, in the most exceptional manner possible, have placed the lives of their fellow men and women above any risk that they themselves faced,” said Mr Ramaphosa.
Cornelius Basson, told the Plainsman on Monday November 22, that his son had to die for him to be gifted with his first flight, to be able to stay at a five-star hotel, to meet the president and be his national guest.
“It is a bittersweet moment. I would give all of this back in a heartbeat just to have my son back, but of course life does not work that way,” he said.
He had applied for this award months after his son died.
Chad had been at a friend’s 21st birthday party in Lentegeur when he was shot early on Saturday morning July 28 2018.
Mr Basson had included newspaper clippings from the Plainsman and the Daily Voice, who heralded his son as a “teen hero”, “which I love”, he said.
“I know it is the highest award in the country ever to be given to any citizen. We are quite honoured and know it is a prestigious award but my son had to die,” he said.
Mr Basson has also been instrumental in putting the alleged shooter behind bars, having tracked him down in Port Elizabeth (“Mother’s pained appeal”, Plainsman, July 8, 2020).
He had written more than 50 letters to various authorities in the hope of bringing his son’s killers to book.
It just so happened that as Mr Basson was picked up by a shuttle to leave for the airport on Wednesday November 17, his wife Dawn was getting ready to attend the umpteenth appearance of this accused in Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court.
This was the first court appearance Mr Basson had missed.
The accused is scheduled to be back in court on Wednesday February 9 next year.
The Basson couple would arrange placard demonstrations outside the court building and support other parents, who had lost their children to gun violence.
Mr Basson has submitted a manuscript of 50 000 words, entitled “Not all heroes wear capes” to publishers but has not been able to raise the necessary funds to get it published.
He said at the time of submission the alleged killer had not yet been arrested.
Chad had three siblings, a sister, aged 31, and two brothers aged 28 and 25.
Mr Basson said they were happy and proud to help where they could.
The book would be their next project in documenting how Chad’s death had affected their family.
Mr Basson said it first started as daily “conversations” with my son, how God used him (Chad) to be their guardian angel and that they had been immensely blessed.
Mr Basson said there would be a sequel and that it would be once the perpetrator was sentenced.
“Then the matter would be a closed book, so to speak,” he said.