Slain anti-apartheid activist Dulcie September, late musician Miriam Makeba and disabled swimmer Natalie du Toit will be among those who receive National Orders from President Jacob Zuma next Friday.
September, who was murdered by an apartheid hitman in Paris in 1988, would receive the Order of Luthuli in silver for her contribution to human rights in South Africa, chancellor of national orders Vusi Mavimbela told a press briefing in Pretoria.
"Dulcie September receives the award in silver for her contribution for a non-racial, non-sexist and just South Africa," Mavimbela said.
The orders, the highest awards South Africa bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals who contribute to the building of democracy and human rights, will be the first to be officiated by Zuma.
Yvonne Muthien, chairperson of the President's Advisory Council for National Orders, said Makeba and Du Toit would receive the Order of Ikhamanga, the award for excelling in art, literature and sport.
"Miriam Makeba has been an icon of South Africa music and has made an enormous contribution in music development in South Africa," she said.
Du Toit had been awarded the order in gold for her exceptional achievements in swimming.
"She captured the imagination of the world and South Africa by having the courage to participate in the able-bodied swimming competition in Beijing Olympics last year. She has truly become a role model for able-bodied and disabled athletes around the world."
The "human polar bear", Lewis Gordon Pugh, would also receive the award for his contribution is to raise awareness about global climate change.
"He is the only human being to have swum all the oceans of the world. He has swum along the entire coast of South African and Robben Island a number of times. He also swam in the Arctic and Antarctica."
The Order of Mendi for Bravery will be granted to Michael Boikhutso, who was killed in fight with South African and Rhodesian soldiers in the Wanki War in then Rhodesia, and to Jacob Tabane, killed by South African soldiers in Swaziland in 1987.
The Order of Mapungupwe, which is the highest order for excellence and exceptional achievement, will be bestowed to Hendrik Koornof for his work in the field of biomedical science and to Johan Lutjeharms for his research in oceanographic science.
Jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim, known as Dollar Brand, will receive the Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to the arts.
Mavimbela said from 2010 onwards orders ceremony will happen only once a year, on Freedom Day on April 27.
"When the National Orders ceremony was started it was recognised that South Africa had a huge backlog of individuals who had not been recognised because of the past," he said.
"We think we are coming to a stage where the backlog has been reduced and where we can hold this thing annually, rather than twice a year." - Sapa