Bophuthatswana Defence Force

The Bophuthatswana Defence Force (BDF) was established on 6 December 1977 from trainees of South African Defence Force. It was the defence force of the Republic of Bophuthatswana, a nominally independent bantustan during the Apartheid era of South Africa.

Bophuthatswana Defence Force
Flag of Bophuthatswana Defence Force
Bophuthatswana Army Flag[1]
Founded1977
DisbandedApril 1994
Service branchesInfantry, Special Forces, Air Wing
HeadquartersMmabatho
Leadership
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Lukas Mangope
Manpower
Military age18-49
Active personnel3,000 in 1988
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of South Africa

Organisation and Structure

A National Guard of about 125 soldiers initially formed the Bophuthatswana National Guard in time for the independence of Bophuthatswana. Initially this group merely performed ceremonial duties and was housed within the office of the President.

A SADF Officer Brigadier Riekert served as a military adviser to President Lucas Mangope. Over time an embryonic Department of Defence was developed resulting in the establishment of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force (BDF) on the 30 November 1979 with Brigadier Riekerk as the Minister of Defence and Lt Col Jack Turner as the Chief of the BDF.

Development of the BDF

Bases and areas of command

The BDF developed military areas and bases at:

  • 1 Military Area covered the region of Mafikeng, Mmabatho and Lehurutse and housed:
    • The Molopo base, with One Infantry Battalion, the Military School and the Technical Services Unit
    • The Lehuru Tshe base, with the Parachute Battalion
  • 2 Military Area covered the region of Mankwe and Moretele and housed:
    • The Mankwe base, with Two Infantry Battalion, a COIN unit
    • The Bafokeng base, a company group base
    • The Odi base, a company group base
  • 3 Military Area covered the region of Thaba’Nchu and Taung and housed:
    • The Thaba’Nchu base, a company group base and
    • The Taung base, a company group base.

The Units

One BDF Infantry Battalion

The first true armed unit formed was One Infantry Battalion based at Molopo, while its training wing eventually formed the Military School.

Technical Services Unit

A Technical Services Unit at Molopo was also formed from a Light Workshop Troop.

Two BDF Infantry Battalion

A second Infantry Battalion was formed and based at Mankwe specialising in COIN operations.

Parachute and Special Forces

A Parachute Battalion and Special forces Unit was also formed. Together these units formed the Task Force.

Other Units

  • BDF Signals Unit with a Supply Depot was housed at the old Mafikeng Air Base after the establishment of Air Force Base Mmabatho.
  • BDF Supply Depot
  • BDF Maintenance Unit

Air Wing

Based at Air Force Base Mmabatho and consisted of:

• A Transport Wing: Operated CASA 212, CASA 235 and Pilatus PC6

• A Helicopter Wing: Allouette 3 and BK 117s

• A Training Wing: Pilatus PC 7

The Bophuthatswana Defence Force Air Force was commissioned on 28 November 1992. Brigadier M.P. Janse van Rensburg as Chief fell under the Chief of the BDF.[2]

Attempted Coup

The establishment of the Bophuthatswana National Security Unit as an addendum to the BDF in 1986 may have contributed to the aborted coup attempt of 2 February 1988. This unit was primarily responsible for the provision of infrastructure. One contentious issue was the low entry requirements for the BNSU compared to that of the BDF, resulting in dissatisfaction.

After the coup was thwarted through the intervention of the SADF, Brigadier Riekert resigned as Minister of Defence and President Mangope personally took over the defence portfolio. The BNSU was disbanded and a small number of former BNSU members were allowed to join the BDF. For practical reasons, a Defence Committee under the chairmanship of Minister Rowan Cronje was established to assist the Chief of the BDF in dealing with welfare and social issues, since these were considered to be the most important sources of the dissatisfaction which had contributed to the coup attempt. Minister Cronje subsequently took over the defence portfolio in 1991.

Invasion of Bophuthatswana

On 11 March 1994, following a request from President Mangope for assistance from the Afrikaner Volksfront, hundreds of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) members unlawfully entered Bophuthatswana from South Africa, to "help" restore control in the face of a strike by civil servants, resulting in 42 residents of Mafikeng killed and three AWB members shot dead by a Bophuthatswana Police sergeant.

The unrest ended when SADF was officially requested to assist in restoring safety and security, by General Turner (Chief of BDF). The request was done as per security agreement between the BDF and SADF. Bophuthatswana was then soon thereafter placed under the control of the South African government.

Shortly afterwards, Mangope was removed from power and a temporary administrator was put in place by the South African Transitional Executive Council [3]

General Elections of South Africa and Disbandment

During the historical General Elections of 1994, 2 SSB took part in Operation Baccarat (stability in Mmabatho and Passado (border protection) as a peace force to ensure stability in the North West Province).

On 19 December 1994, the Bophuthatswana Defence Force Parachute Battalion at Gopane was placed under operational command of 2 SSB, as part of the founding of the SANDF. 2 SSB withdrew simultaneously from Nietverdiend and Nooitgedacht. From August 1994 to 15 June 1995 successful bridging training was provided for 550 formerly non-statutory force members.

With the end of Apartheid in 1994 in South Africa, the former defence forces of the Bantustan s were incorporated into the newly formed South African National Defence Force.

The SANDF's new 10 South African Infantry Battalion heraldry clearly originates from the Bophuthatswana Defence Force, its forbear.

Insignia

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Tupper Flash Structure
Bophuthatswana Defence Force Structure

Ranks

Equivalent
NATO code
OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) and student officer
Bophuthatswana Bophuthatswana
(Edit)
No equivalent
BDF Brigadier Rank.jpg BDF Colonel Rank.jpg BDF Lt Colonel Rank.jpg BDF Major Rank.jpg BDF Captain rank.jpg BDF 1st Lieutenant Rank.jpg BDF 2nd Lieutenant Rank.jpg BOP Rank Candidate Officer.jpg
Brigadier
Colonel
Lieutenant
Colonel

Major
Captain
Lieutenant
2nd Lieutenant
Officer
Candidate
Equivalent
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Bophuthatswana Bophuthatswana
(Edit)
BDF Rank Warrant Officer class 1
BDF Rank Warrant Officer class 2
BDF Rank Staff Sergeant Brassard
BDF Rank Sergeant Brassard
No equivalent
BDF Rank Corporal Brassard
BDF Rank L Corporal Brassard
No insignia
Warrant Officer Class 1
Warrant Officer Class 2
Staff Sergeant
Sergeant
Corporal
Lance Corporal
Private

Equipment

The BDF was equipped for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. The BDF used:

  • R4/R5 assault rifles,
  • 7,62 mm Light Machine Gun
  • 40 mm Multiple Grenade Launcher,
  • 60 mm and 81 mm mortars and
  • 12.7 mm Browning HMG.
  • 105mm Recoilless Rifle

Vehicles included Mambas, Buffels, Samil 20, seven-ton Isuzu trucks and 4x4 vehicles."

Medals

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Distinguished Gallantry Cross;

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Merit Decoration;

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Distinguished Gallantry Medal;

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Defence Force Merit Medal;

Marumo Medal Class 1 (Gold);

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Defence Force Commendation Medal;

Marumo Medal Class 2 (Silver);

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Nkwe Medal;

Bophuthatswana Defence Force General Service Medal;

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Independence Medal;

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (Gold);

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (Silver);

Bophuthatswana Defence Force Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (Bronze).

References

  1. ^ "Bophuthatswana (South African homeland)". CRW Flags. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  2. ^ https://saartillery.wordpress.com/bophuthatswana-defence-force/
  3. ^ http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/three-awb-members-shot-and-killed-during-invasion-bophuthatswana
10 South African Infantry Battalion

10 South African Infantry Battalion is a motorised infantry unit of the South African Army.

1994 Bophuthatswana crisis

The 1994 Bophuthatswana crisis was a major political crisis which began after Lucas Mangope, the president of Bophuthatswana, a South African bantustan created under apartheid, attempted to crush widespread labour unrest and popular demonstrations demanding the incorporation of the territory into South Africa pending non-racial elections later that year. Violent protests immediately broke out following President Mangope's announcement on March 7 that Bophuthatswana would boycott the South African general elections. These escalated into a civil service strike and a mutiny in the local armed forces, which was complicated by the arrival of right-wing Afrikaner extremists ostensibly seeking to preserve the Mangope government. The chaos lasted about four days before the president bowed to pressure and agreed to allow participation in the upcoming elections. However, Mangope once again reversed his decision. The South African Defence Force (SADF) responded by deposing him and restoring order on March 12.The Bophuthatswana Crisis highlighted the deep unpopularity of the Mangope government and the bantustan system among most of its residents. It has been remembered largely for the televised shooting of three Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) militants by a black police officer. This proved to be a public relations disaster for the AWB and demoralised the movement, which was then intent on preserving white minority rule.

Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging

The Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging ([ɐfriˈkɑːnər ˌviərstants.bəˈviəχəŋ]), meaning Afrikaner Resistance Movement, commonly known by its abbreviation AWB, is a South African neo-Nazi separatist political and paramilitary organisation, often described as a White Supremacist group. Since its founding in 1973 by Eugène Terre'Blanche and six other far-right Afrikaners, it has been dedicated to secessionist Afrikaner nationalism and the creation of an independent Boer-Afrikaner republic or "Volkstaat/Boerestaat" in part of South Africa. During bilateral negotiations to end apartheid in the early 1990s, the organization terrorized and killed black South Africans.As of 2016, it is reported that the organization has around 5,000 members, and uses social media for recruitment.

Bophuthatswana Air Force

The Bophuthatswana Air Force (BAF) was the aviation branch of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force. The BAF existed from 1987 until 27 April 1994. The primary role of the BAF was to provide support and medevac services to the ground units of the Bophuthatswana army. The BAF operated from several bases, one being Mmabatho AFB.

All surviving aircraft and helicopters were integrated into the South African Air Force after 27 April 1994.

Defence Force Commendation Medal

The Defence Force Commendation Medal was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982. It could be awarded to all ranks for service of a high standard.

Defence Force Merit Decoration

The Defence Force Merit Decoration was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to officers for distinguished service of high quality and utmost devotion to duty.

Defence Force Merit Medal

The Defence Force Merit Medal was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks for extraordinarily excellent service and particular devotion to duty.

Distinguished Gallantry Cross

The Distinguished Gallantry Cross was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks for hair-raising deeds of distinguished heroism.

Distinguished Gallantry Medal

The Distinguished Gallantry Medal was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks for extraordinary gallantry.

General Service Medal (Bophuthatswana)

The General Service Medal was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1991, for award to all ranks for operational service inside Bophuthatswana.

Independence Medal (Bophuthatswana)

The Independence Medal was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana to commemorate that country's independence on 6 December 1977. It was awarded to all ranks on the active strength of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force upon independence.

Marumo Medal, Class I

The Marumo Medal, Class I was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1988.

Marumo Medal, Class II

The Marumo Medal, Class II was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1988.

Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Bronze

The Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Bronze was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks as a long service medal for ten years service and good conduct.

Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Gold

The Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Gold was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks as a long service medal for thirty years service and good conduct.

Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Silver

The Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct, Silver was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1982, for award to all ranks as a long service medal for twenty years service and good conduct.

Nkwe Medal

The Nkwe Medal (Leopard medal) was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1990, for award to all ranks for operational service.

Order of the Leopard (Bophuthatswana)

The Order of the Leopard is a merit order of the former Republic of Bophuthatswana. The Order was instituted in order to recognise service to the people of the Republic of Bophuthatswana. It was instituted by the President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana by official Warrant on 28 December 1979.

State President's Medal for Shooting

The State President's Medal for Shooting was instituted by the State President of the Republic of Bophuthatswana in 1990, for award to champion shots.

South African Army Units
Divisions and Brigades
Armoured Formation (SAAAF)
Infantry Formation (SAAIF)
Artillery Formation
Air Defence Artillery Formation
Engineer Formation
Training Formation
Support Formation
Signals Formation
Disbanded or Amalgamated Units

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