Ciskei Defence Force

The Ciskei Defence Force (CDF) was established during March 1981 from the 141 Battalion of the South African Defence Force (SADF). It was the defence force of the Republic of Ciskei, an independent bantustan during the Apartheid era of South Africa. It functioned as part of the 21 Battalion based near Lenasia, outside Johannesburg.[1]

Ciskei Defence Force
Coat of arms of Ciskei
Coat of arms of Ciskei
DisbandedApril 1994
Service branches1st and 2nd Battalion
Air wing
HeadquartersJong'umsobomvu, outside King Williams Town
Commander-in-ChiefBrigadier General Oupa Gqozo
Military age18-49
Deployed personnel2000 (1993)
BudgetR99 910 000 (1993)
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of South Africa


In 1993 the total troop count of the CDF was 2000. The defence expenditure for Ciskei for 1991/2 was R76,883,000 and for the period of 1993/94 it was R99,910,000.[1]

Organisation and structure

According to Dr Jakkie Cilliers, the CDF consisted of the following:

Defence Headquarters

Originally located at Jong'umsobomvu (outside King William's Town), however, in 1993 the CDF's headquarters moved to the Parliament Buildings in Bhisho. Jong'umsobomvu retained the following:[1]

  • Logistic Depot: including general equipment, uniforms, daily maintenance, rations, fuel, etc.
  • Maintenance and Construction Unit
  • Training Centre.

One Ciskei Battalion

The battalion consisted of 900 men and were stationed at Bhisho;[1] it consisted of:

  • 3 companies of which 2 had Mamba mine-protected vehicles
  • a small support company
  • a large Light Workshop Troop and signals workshops which served the whole of the CDF

Two Ciskei Battalion

The battalion consisted of 700 men and was stationed at Keiskammahoek;[1] it consisted of:

  • 3 companies with Mamba mine-protected vehicles
  • a small support company.

Air Wing

Situated at Bisho Airport a.k.a. Bulembu;[1] it consisted of:

There was a special forces/parachute company stationed at Bulembu, the core of a possible future parachute regiment. The Ciskei military band was also stationed at Bulembo and fell under the Air Wing for administrative purposes.[1]


The CDF's auxiliary according to Dr Jakkie Cilliers [1] consisted of, quote:

"The CDF had semi-permanent company bases at Alice and Kama/Whittlesea. There are also Auxiliary Services for which the CDF provided training and certain administrative functions. These Services are tasked with the protection of chiefs and headmen. These forces are controlled by structures within the Council of State. There is also a decentralised medical and signals element.


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
Ciskei Ciskei
No equivalent
Ciskei Defence Force Brigadier.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Colonel slip on rank.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Lt Colonel slip on rank.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Major Rank.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Captain rank.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Lieutenant Rank.jpg Ciskei Defence Force 2nd Lieutenant Rank.jpg Unknown
Lieutenant Colonel
2nd Lieutenant
NATO code
OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Ciskei Ciskei
Ciskei Defence Force Warrant Officer Class 1 badge Ciskei Defence Force Warrant Officer Class 2 badge None Ciskei Defence Force Sergeant badge No equivalent Ciskei Defence Force Corporal badge Ciskei Defence Force Lance Corporal badge No insignia
Chief Warrant Officer
Warrant Officer
Staff Sergeant
Lance Corporal


The CDF was equipped for counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. The CDF had one 25 pounder field gun for ceremonial purposes and used R4/R5 assault rifles. The 7,62 mm Light Machine Gun issued was the SS-77. Other armaments included the 40 mm Multiple Grenade Launcher, 60 mm and 81 mm mortars and 7,62 mm Browning.

Vehicles included Mambas, Buffels, Samil 20, seven ton Isuzu trucks and 4x4 vehicles."[1]


Ciskei Defence Force insignia
Ciskei Defence Force insignia


There were two medals awarded for service to the members of the CDF namely:


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


The Flag of Ciskei was located in the canton on a green background. On the green a large golden eagle clasped a lightning bolt.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Archived 2016-06-24 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^

Further reading

  • Gavin Cawthra and Martin Navias: The Ciskei Defence Force. Jane's Intelligence Review, February 1993, 94-96.
1992 in South Africa

The following lists events that happened during 1992 in South Africa.

3 Parachute Battalion

3 Parachute Battalion is a Citizen Force paratroop unit of the South African Army. It was established in July 1977 within the formation of the Parachute Battalion. Later it was a battalion within 44 Parachute Brigade. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard unit.

Bisho massacre

The Bisho massacre occurred on 7 September 1992 in Bisho, in the then nominally independent homeland of Ciskei which is now part of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. Twenty-eight African National Congress supporters and one soldier were shot dead by the Ciskei Defence Force during a protest march when they attempted to enter Bisho (now renamed to Bhisho) to demand the reincorporation of Ciskei into South Africa during the final years of apartheid.

Charles Sebe

Lt. General Xhanti Charles Sebe was leader of the Ciskei Defence Force- the military of the Bantustan of Ciskei, and its Director of State Security. A former security branch policeman, he later joined the South African Bureau of State Security (B.O.S.S.) before founding the Ciskei state security apparatus.Described as having created a police state in Ciskei, and being perceived as its de facto ruler, he was the brother of Lennox Sebe. He was subsequently arrested by his brother's government, and sentenced to prison by the Ciskei government for incitement, but was rescued from jail by white mercenaries, and escaped to the nearby Bantustan of Transkei, where he began an organisation that aimed to overthrow his brother's government.Charles Sebe was lured back to Ciskei in an operation orchestrated by South African security forces in 1991, during the rule of Oupa Gqozo, and, having been wounded in an ambush which killed an associate, was the subject of a manhunt, and he was subsequently was shot to death in cold blood by the Ciskei Security forces. Gqozo was tried in 1993 for the murder, by the Ciskei Supreme Court, and, together with his co-accused, Sergeant-Major Thozamile Veliti, Gqozo was acquitted.The killing of Sebe was later investigated by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Chief C.D.F. Commendation Medal

The Chief C.D.F. Commendation Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1992, for award to all ranks for service commended by the Chief of the Ciskei Defence Force.


Ciskei (, or ) was a nominally independent state – a Bantustan – in the south east of South Africa. It covered an area of 7,700 square kilometres (3,000 sq mi), almost entirely surrounded by what was then the Cape Province, and possessed a small coastline along the shore of the Indian Ocean.

Under South Africa's policy of apartheid, land was set aside for black peoples in self-governing territories. Ciskei was designated as one of two homelands or "Bantustans" for Xhosa-speaking people. Ngqika (Rharhabe) Xhosa people were forcibly resettled in the Ciskei, and Gcaleka Xhosa were settled in the Transkei, the other Xhosa homeland. Unlike the other Bantustans, including Transkei, which saw itself as a Xhosa homeland, Ciskei has been described as having "absolutely no basis in any ethnic, cultural or linguistic fact whatsoever" despite efforts by the Ciskei authorities to create a distinctive "Ciskeian" identity.In contrast to the Transkei, which was largely contiguous and deeply rural, and governed by hereditary chiefs, the area that became the Ciskei had been made up of a patchwork of "reserves" interspersed with pockets of white-owned farms. There were elected headmen, it had a relatively educated working class populace and there was a tendency of the region's black residents, who often worked in East London, Queenstown and King Williams Town, to oppose traditional methods of control. These differences have been posited as the reason for two separate homelands for the Xhosa people being developed, as well as the later nominal independence of Ciskei from South Africa, than Transkei.After its creation, large numbers of blacks were expelled from designed white areas in the Cape Province by the Apartheid government to Ciskei, in particular, "non-productive Bantus"-women with dependent children, the elderly, and the infirm, and it was also treated as a reservoir of cheap black labour.Ciskei had a succession of capitals during its existence. Originally, Zwelitsha served as the capital with the view that Alice would become the long-term national capital. However, it was Bisho (now spelled Bhisho) that became the capital until Ciskei's reintegration into South Africa.

The name Ciskei means "on this side of the Kei River", and is in contrast to the nearby Bantustan of Transkei.

Ciskei Defence Medal

The Ciskei Defence Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to all ranks for general service.

Defence Forces

Defence Force(s) or Defense Force(s) is the title of the armed forces of certain countries.

Independence Medal (Ciskei)

The Independence Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1981, for award to all serving members of the Ciskei Defence Force on 4 December 1981 to commemorate the independence of Ciskei.

Medal for Long Service, Bronze

The Medal for Long Service, Bronze was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to all ranks for ten years faithful service.

Oupa Gqozo

Joshua Oupa Gqozo (Xhosa pronunciation: [ɔupʼa ᶢǃʱɔz̤ɔ]; born 10 March 1952) was the military ruler of the former homeland of Ciskei in South Africa.

President's Medal for Shooting

The President's Medal for Shooting was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to champion shots.

Q Services Corps (South Africa)

The establishment of the 'Q' Services Corps as part of the South African Permanent Force was promulgated in the Government Gazette dated 10 November 1939.

Regiment Port Natal

Regiment Port Natal was a motorised infantry regiment of the South African Army. It formed part of the South African Army Infantry Formation. As a reserve unit, it had a status roughly equivalent to that of a present-day British Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard unit.

Ronnie Kasrils

Ronald "Ronnie" Kasrils (born 15 November 1938) is a South African politician. He was Minister for Intelligence Services from 27 April 2004 to 25 September 2008. He was a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1987 to 2007 as well as a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP) from December 1986 to 2007.

Sandile Decoration

The Sandile Decoration, post-nominal letters SD, was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to all ranks for meritorious service.

Sandile Medal

The Sandile Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of Ciskei in 1988, for award to all ranks for meritorious service.

Unitas Medal

The Unitas Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of South Africa on 4 November 1994. It was awarded to all ranks who were on the active strength of all seven constituent military forces from 27 April 1994 to 10 May 1994, to commemorate their amalgamation into the South African National Defence Force. It was also awarded to personnel of the British Military Advisory and Training Team which served in South Africa at the time.

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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