Military decorations and medals
June2009 / March 2013

'TBVC states' defence forces

THE so-called 'TBVC states', i.e. the four homelands within South Africa which were granted independence as 'republics', had their own defence forces and their own military decorations and medals.

They were the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, the Ciskei, and Venda. Their awards became obsolete when the homelands were reincorporated into the Republic of South Africa in 1994.

Bophuthatswana Defence force

The Bophuthatswana Defence Force – originally called the 'Bophuthatswana National Guard' (BNG) – existed from December 1977 to April 1994. It had its own decorations and medals, corresponding to the principal SA Defence Force awards of the period, from March 1982.

Distinguished Gallantry Cross (1982-94) — For (i) 'hair-raising' (sic) deeds of distinguished heroism, or (ii) distinguished gallantry.

Insignia: A green-enamelled gold convex cross with battle-axes between the arms, displaying a leopard head on a red roundel (obverse).

Defence Force Merit Decoration (1982-94) — For distinguished service of high quality, and utmost devotion to duty. Reserved for officers.

Insignia: A silver 5-pointed inverted star with rays between the points, displaying a silver leopard head on a blue roundel (obverse).

Medal for Distinguished Gallantry (1982-94) — For (i) extraordinary gallantry, or (ii) gallantry.

Insignia: A gold circular medal, displaying a leopard head.

Defence Force Merit Medal (1982-94) — For extraordinarily excellent service, and particular devotion to duty.

Insignia: A silver circular medal displaying a silver leopard head on a blue roundel in the centre of a 6-pointed star on a multi-rayed background (obverse).

BDF Commendation Medal (1984-94) — For service of a high standard.

Insignia: A bronze circular medal displaying a leopard head within a decorative border (obverse).

*Nkwe Medal (1990) — A campaign medal.

Insignia: A silver (nickel?) octagonal medal depicting a prowling leopard (obverse).

*General Service Medal (1991) — A campaign medal.

Insignia: A circular silver (nickel?) medal depicting the BDF emblem in a laurel wreath (obverse).

BDF Independence Medal (1982) — Issued to founder members of the BDF.

Insignia: A silver (nickel?) circular medal displaying the Bophuthatswana coat of arms (obverse).

BDF Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (1982-94) — For faithful service. Awarded cumulatively in three classes: Bronze after 10 years, Silver after 20 years, and Gold after 30 years.

Insignia: A circular medal displaying the Bophuthatswana coat of arms (obverse).

State President's Medal — For champion shots.

Ciskei Defence force

The Ciskei Defence Force (CDF) existed from June 1983 to April 1994. It had its own decorations and medals from 1988.

Cross for Valour (CCV)

Insignia: A silver cross with a lion's head in the centre, and a wreath of leaves between the arms.

Cross for Gallantry

Insignia: Similar to the CCV, but with a leopard's head in the centre.

Sandile Decoration (Military) (SD)

Insignia: A circular silver medal depicting the CDF's eagle emblem in a laurel wreath.

Cross for Bravery (CCB)

Insignia: Similar to the CCV, but in bronze, and with a crane bird in the centre.

Pro Merito Decoration (PMD)

Insignia: A circular gold-coloured medal displaying the Ciskei coat of arms and the name of the medal.

Sandile Medal (SM)

Insignia: Similar to the Sandile Decoration.

Pro Merito Medal (PMM)

CDF Commendation Medal

Insignia: A circular bronze medal displaying the CDF's eagle emblem and the name of the medal.

Ciskei Defence Medal — A campaign medal.

Insignia: A circular bronze medal displaying a Xhosa shield on crossed spears, between two sprays of leaves (obverse), and the Ciskei coat of arms with the words "Imbasa yoMkhosi" and "Defence Medal" (reverse).

CDF Long Service Medal — For 20 years faithful service.

Insignia: A silver medal.

CDF Long Service Medal — For 10 years faithful service.

Insignia: A bronze medal displaying the Ciskei coat of arms (obverse).

President's Medal for Shooting (1988-94) — Presumably awarded to CDF shooting champions.

Insignia: A circular silver medal displaying two crossed rifles within a wreath.

Transkei Defence force

The Transkei Defence Force (TDF) existed from October 1976 to April 1994. It had a few decorations and medals.

TDF Cross for Bravery (1994)

Insignia: A silver convex cross displaying a crane bird inside a red circlet inscribed 'For Bravery' (obverse), and the Transkei coat of arms (reverse).

TDF Medal (1994)

Insignia: A silver (nickel?) medal displaying the TDF emblem (obverse) and the Transkei coat of arms and the name of the medal (reverse).

Military Rule Medal — For supporting the 1987 military coup d'etat.

Insignia: A circular bronze medal displaying a crossed spear and rifle (obverse), and the Transkei coat of arms with the words 'Military Rule Medal 30:11:1987' (reverse).

Faithful Service Medal (1987-94) — For 10 years devoted service.

Insignia: A circular silver medal displaying the Transkei coat of arms (obverse) and the words "Yenkonzo Ethembiskillyo -- For Faithful Service" (reverse). The ribbon as authorised had five stripes (navy blue - red - sky blue - red - navy blue), but as actually issued it had only three.

Venda Defence force

The Venda Defence Force (VDF) existed from September 1982 to April 1994. It had its own decorations and medals, corresponding to SA Defence Force awards of the time, from August 1984.

Gallantry Cross: Gold (GCG) (1985-94) — For extreme courage or supreme bravery or valour beyond the normal call of duty.

Insignia: A gold cross pattee, depicting a gold hare's bobtail within a red circlet (obverse) and the Venda coat of arms (reverse).

Gallantry Cross: Silver (GCS) (1985-94) — For courage or bravery or valour beyond the normal call of duty.

Insignia: Same design as the GCG but in silver.

Distinguished Service Medal: Gold (1985-94) — For exceptionally meritorious service and particular devotion to duty.

Insignia: A circular gold medal displaying the letter V and two interlaced rings (obverse) and 'For Distinguished Service - Kha u Fulufhedzea Mushumeni' (reverse).

Distinguished Service Medal: Silver (1985-94) — For outstanding service and devotion to duty.

Insignia: Same design as the gold medal, but in silver.

VDF Medal (1984-94) — For service of a high standard.

Insignia: A circular bronze medal, displaying an elephant's head in an open wreath (obverse) and the Venda coat of arms and the name of the medal (reverse).

General Service Medal (1985-94) — For service in defence of Venda or in the prevention or suppression of terrorism.

Insignia: A circular bronze medal depicting two crossed battle-axes in front of a traditional drum (obverse) and the Venda coat of arms (reverse).

VDF Long Service Medal (1985-94) — For exemplary service. Awarded in three cumulative classes: Bronze after 10 years, Silver after 20 years, and Gold after 30 years.

Insignia: A circular medal displaying the Venda coat of arms (obverse) and the number of years service, in English and Shivenda (reverse).

References
  • Bophuthatswana Government Gazette Vol 11 No100 (13.08.1982)
  • Transkei Government Gazette Vol 11 No 31 (12.06.1987).
  • Venda Government Gazette Vol 12 No 119 (17.08.1984), Vol 13 No 15 (08.02.1985), Vol 13 No 23 (22.02.1985), and Vol 13 No 50 (26.04.1985).
  • SANDF website.
  • Chambers, Steve : personal communication about the BDF Nkwe Medal and General Service Medal.
 
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