Military Wiki
Nkwe ya Selefera (Silver Leopard)
Awarded by South African National Defence Force
Country  South Africa
Awarded for For conspicuous bravery during military operations.
Status Issued
Post-nominals NS
Established 27 April 2003
First awarded 2004
Total awarded 1
Next (higher) Nkwe ya Gauta
Next (lower) Nkwe ya Boronse
Ribbon - Nkwe ya Selefera.gif
Nkwe ya Selefera Ribbon

F/Sgt V. Selvan, NS with the Nkwe ya Selefera Decoration (leftmost medal)

The Nkwe ya Selefera (English:Silver Leopard) is a South African military decoration issued for bravery. It is the second of the three classes of the Nkwe Decorations (see also Nkwe ya Gauta and Nkwe ya Boronse decorations).[1]


It was instituted with effect from 27 April 2003, and may be awarded to members of the South African National Defence Force (or any other armed forces serving with the SANDF) for conspicuous bravery during military operations.[2] The Nkwe ya Selefera (Silver Leopard) Decoration replaced the Honoris Crux Silver Decoration (Awarded for exceptional bravery in great danger).

Flight Sergeant Vasudevan Selvan was the first recipient of the Nkwe Ya Selefera Decoration and the first Soldier of Indian descent to be decorated for bravery by the South African Armed Forces.

A bar may be awarded to a recipient who earns the decoration again. A recipient is entitled to use the post-nominal letters NS.

Language of origin: SETSWANA


The honours for bravery may be awarded to officers and other ranks of the SANDF who have distinguished themselves by performing acts of conspicuous bravery during military operations. A bar may be awarded for a successive similar achievement.


  • Deliberate but daring and conspicuous actions on a single occasion or over a period of time.
  • Dangerous situation (serious/critical).
  • Possibility of loss of own life: endangered own life for others.
  • Actions contributory for success.
  • Perseverance under trying circumstances.



The decoration is a silver 5-armed convex cross with rays separating the arms. In the centre is a light blue roundel displaying a leopard's head.


The South African coat of arms appears on the reverse.


The ribbon is Sky Blue 20mm and White (Silver) 6mm. Sky blue represents the feathers of the blue crane bird, which Xhosa kings used to present to brave warriors. An arm-of-service emblem is worn on the ribbon to indicate whether the recipient was serving in the Army, Air Force, Navy, or Military Health Service at the time of earning the decoration.

The arm-of-service-emblems are:

  • Army uniform: Crossed swords
  • Air Force uniform: Eagle
  • Naval uniform: Anchor
  • Military Health Service uniform: Rod of Aesculapius.


Medal Number Name Service Rank Unit Date of award Action cited for
001 Selvan V South African Air Force Sergeant 15 Squadron 2004 For Actions of saving the life of an SANDF Special Forces Officer during Operation FIBRE while stationed in Bujumbura, Burundi, 20 February 2002


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