Ciskei Defence Force

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Ciskei Defence Force
Ciskei Defence Force flag 1981 - 1994.svg
Flag of the CDF
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

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 Ciskei, a bantustan that was controlled by the apartheid regime of South Africa. The CDF functioned as part of the 21 Battalion based near Lenasia, outside Johannesburg.[1]


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[edit]

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

Defence Headquarters[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 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.


Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
Ciskei Army[1]
Blank.svg Ciskei Defence Force Brigadier.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Colonel.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Lt Colonel.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
Lieutenant general Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
Ciskei Army[1]
Ciskei Defence Force Warrant Officer Class 1 badge.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Warrant Officer Class 2 badge.jpg Blank.svg Ciskei Defence Force Sergeant badge.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Corporal badge.jpg Ciskei Defence Force Lance Corporal badge.jpg No insignia
Chief warrant officer Warrant officer Staff sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Private


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


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 j k Cilliers, Jakkie (1993). "An Overview of the Armed Forces of the TBVC Countries". South African Defence Review (13). Archived from the original on 24 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Ciskei (South African homeland)". Retrieved 2021-08-26.

Further reading[edit]

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