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The Camouflage From Transkei
- May 28, 2018 -

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Transkei was a tribal homeland in the southeastern region of Republic of South Africa from 1976 until 1994.[1] The region was set aside for Xhosa-speaking people and given nominal autonomy in 1963, and granted nominal self-rule in 1976. Chief Kaiser Daliwonga Matanzima became its first head of government, ruling it as a one-party state.

The Transkei Defence Force was founded in 1975 with the formation of 1 Transkei Battalion[2], created with the assistance of the SADF. In April of 1978 Transkei broke off diplomatic ties with South Africa over a border dispute, and ordered all SADF members seconded to the Transkei Defence Force to leave. The TDF later obtained the assistance of Rhodesian security forces, and in 1981 former Rhodesian Selous Scouts commander Lt. Colonel Ron Reid-Daly was appointed General Officer Commanding of the TDF. Former members of the Rhodesian forces were largely responsible for the formation of the Special Forces Regiment, as well as counterinsurgency training of the Infantry battalion. A Mounted Battalion, modeled on the Rhodesian Grey's Scouts, was also formed in 1984, and still later were added a small air wing, military police unit, medical unit, engineers, maintenance and pay corps.

Relations were eventually restored with South Africa, as the tribal homeland was economically dependent on its larger neighbor. A largely unpublicized coup d'etat in 1987 replaced Matanzima with General Bantu Holomisa (commander of the TDF). An uneasy alliance with the African National Congress ensued thereafter, providing a safe haven within the borders of South Africa for the movement's activities.

Transkei was reincorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994, becoming part of the Eastern Cape province.

Transkei Camouflage

  • With the assistance of former Rhodesian Security Force members, the Transkei Defense Force developed a camouflage design clearly based on an early design issued by Zimbabwe, but having different colors. A vertical "stripe" or "brushstroke" pattern, the Transkei design incorporates chocolate brown & dark green vertical stripes on a khaki background, with some variability depending on the manufacturer. A variation of the pattern, possibly for trials or first issue, printed brown over green, can be seen here.


  • The standardized version of the Transkei pattern, by far the most commonly encountered, is illustrated here, in two different examples. It would appear both have green printed over brown. This may be a second version of the pattern.

Transkei2.jpg Transkei3.jpg

  • Evidence dating to 1983 seems to confirm the pattern below was ordered for the Transkei Police by members of the SAP. Rumors floated around for years the pattern was 1st type for the Transkei DF, but this no longer seems likely or plausible. The uniform designs are the same as those produced for the Kwa Zulu Natal Homeland Police, and were probably made by the same private company.



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