Ciskei Defence Force

Ciskei Defence Force
Coat of arms of Ciskei
Founded 1981
Disbanded April 1994
Service branches 1st and 2nd Battalion
Air wing
Headquarters Jong'umsobomvu, outside King Williams Town
Commander-in-Chief Brigadier General Oupa Gqozo
Military age 18-49
Deployed personnel 2000 (1993)
Budget R99 910 000 (1993)
Related articles
History Military 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 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]


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-10OF-9OF-8OF-7OF-6OF-5OF-4OF-3OF-2OF-1OF(D) and student officer
No equivalent
Lieutenant Colonel
2nd Lieutenant
No equivalent 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]


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]


Further reading

  • Gavin Cawthra and Martin Navias: The Ciskei Defence Force. Jane's Intelligence Review, February 1993, 94-96.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.