South African Decorations

Not for Ourselves, but for Others

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South African Defence Force

South Africa introduced its own honours system in 1952. Its largest component was a series of military decorations and medals, which not only replaced the existing long service medals, but provided substitutes for the decorations which the British government had awarded in wartime:



A new system was introduced in 1975. It retained seven of the existing decorations and medals. Innovations included a hierarchy of merit awards, cumulative long service medals, and colour-coded ribbons. As the South African Defence Force was engaged in military operations in South West Africa and Angola throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the number of awards granted each year increased significantly. Additional decorations were instituted between 1987 and 1991:



Armed Opposition Organisations
In 1996, two separate sets of decorations were instituted for veterans who had served in the Azanian People’s Liberation Army and Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA)



Umkhonto we Sizwe



South African National Defence Force
The SANDF, was formed in 1994 by amalgamating the SADF, the liberation armies, and the military forces of the former homelands, used the SADF decorations and medals until 2003, when a new series of decorations was instituted:




Russel Mattushek