Venda Defence Force


The Venda Defence Force (VDF) was established in September 1982 from the 112 Battalion of the South African Defence Force and the military branch of the Venda National Force which itself had been formed when the Venda homeland became independent from South Africa in September 1979.

Venda Defence Force
Flag of the Venda Defence Force.svg
Flag of the VDF
Venda Defence Force roundel.svg
Roundel of the VDF
DisbandedApril 1994
Service branches1st and 2nd Battalion
Air wing
HeadquartersSibasa, Venda
Chief of DefenseBrigadier General Ramushwana
Military age18-49
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of South Africa
RanksMilitary ranks of Venda

Venda Defence ForceEdit


The Venda National Force was established with Venda’s independence in 1979 and included defence and other services such as police and prisons. Strange enough, traffic policing was part of this national force, but by 1981 it was transferred to the Department of Justice. The Fire Brigade was however still part of the Venda National Force although there was plans to transfer this to the civilian government.

Development of the VDFEdit

Colonel Gabriel Ramushwana was appointed the Chairman of the Council and Minister of Defence and National Intelligence was second in command as well as the Venda Security Police before being transferred to the VDF as Chief of Staff by State President Patrick Mphephu with the aim of his eventual succession as Chief of the VDF.

112 Battalion and One Venda BattalionEdit

The VDF itself was formally separated from the National Force on the 27 September 1982 when the SADF’s 112 Battalion from Madimbo, part of the Soutpansberg Military Area, which was outside the Venda territory, was disbanded and re-established to form One Venda Battalion at Manenu. At that stage this battalion consisted of three companies and was to all purposes a light infantry battalion.

SADF 112 battalion emblem

Two Venda BattalionEdit

Two Venda Battalion was established around 1985/86 and was initially housed in temporary quarters until 1986/1987.

Air WingEdit

The VDF also consisted of a small air wing consisting of light helicopters (BK117s and Allouette 3) and fixed wings (CASA C-212 and Citations).


A bloodless coup occurred on 5 April 1990, the then Colonel Ramushwana was attending a SADF Army Staff Course in Pretoria. Until that date the Chief of the VDF was a seconded SADF officer, Brigadier Steenkamp, with Ramushwana as his Chief of Staff. State President Ravele was the Commander in Chief and was advised by a Security Council.


After the coup, Ramushwana became Chief of the VDF as well as the Chairman of the Council of National Unity. A Security Working Committee was established to replace the Security Council. The SEWOCOM consisted of:

  • Ramushwana, now a Brigadier, as chairman,
  • the Chief of Staff of the VDF, a Colonel W. Swanepoel,
  • the Senior Staff Officer intelligence,
  • the Senior Staff Officer Operations,
  • the Police Commissioner,
  • the Director General of the Venda National Intelligence,
  • the Advocate-General and
  • two other members of the Council of National Unity.

This committee dealt with all security related issues in Venda including the quality of government, since the coup followed widespread allegations of corruption and maladmistration.


Venda Defence Force insignia


Officer ranks
Rank group General/flag officers Field/senior officers Junior officers Officer cadet
  Venda Ground Forces[1]
Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second lieutenant
Other ranks
Rank group Senior NCOs Junior NCOs Enlisted
  Venda Ground Forces[1]
            No insignia
Chief warrant officer Warrant officer Staff sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance corporal Private


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


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

  • R4/R5 assault rifles,
  • 7.62 mm Light Machine Gun,
  • 40 mm Multiple Grenade Launcher,
  • 60 mm and
  • 81 mm mortars
  • 7.62 mm Browning

Vehicles included:

  • Mambas,
  • Buffels,
  • Samil 20,
  • seven ton Isuzu trucks and
  • 4x4 vehicles


  1. ^ a b 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.