The Ciskei Defence Force (CDF) originated from 141 Battalion *[possibly 112 Battalion] of the SADF. It was established during March 1981 as part of 21 Battalion in Lenz. The CDF itself was formally established on 4 December 1981 with the independence of Ciskei. At that stage it consisted of 240 soldiers, 40 members of the military band and an additional 38 members seconded from the SADF who formed the leadership element. Initially the seconded officers and other ranks from the SADF both trained and effectively commanded the CDF.
Together with the police, traffic police, prison services and the Ciskei Intelligence Services, the CDF was grouped under the umbrella of the Ciskei Department of State Security under Lt. Gen. Charles Sebe. In June 1983 the CDF became an independent government department with its own deputy minister, and from 1 April 1986 it had its own minister.
During June 1981 the first elements of the future CDF headquarters occupied their offices in Zwelitsha and subsequently moved, during December 1981, to Izele Convent, which is now known as Jong'umsobomvu. The Ciskei Battalion was initially housed in tents at Sandile Military Training Area, but eventually moved, first to Jong'umsobomvu and, during November 1983, to the Bisho Military Base.
Following an agreement between President Lennox Sebe and Gen. Bar-David, 64 advisors from Israel were sent to Ciskei during February 1984 and divided between various government departments, including the CDF. This soon resulted in tensions between the visitors and the seconded SADF personnel.
In 1984, after shooting incidents at Sandile military training base, and upon the advice of the Israeli security advisors from the company Tamus, President Lennox Sebe requested the removal from Ciskei of three seconded SADF officers, including the commander, Brig. A.A. Nel. This occurred on 9 January 1985 and the SADF subsequently withdrew the rest of their seconded personnel who numbered between 10 and 15 persons. Major-General N.D. Mlandu succeeded Brig. Nel as commander of the CDF. During August 1985 the Israeli advisors were also requested to leave the country.
There was very little contact between the CDF and SADF in subsequent years. Much of the efforts of the CDF appeared to be orientated towards countering the political threat posed to President Lennox Sebe by Charles Sebe. These fears were not without some foundation for, on 19 February 1987, a truckload of armed men from Transkei unsuccessfully attacked the Bisho home of the Ciskei president, Chief Lennox Sebe. The purpose of the raid was apparently to replace Chief Lennox Sebe with Chief Lent Maqoma who was more sympathetic to South Africa, and aligned to Charles Sebe. Once soldier from the Transkei Defence Force died and three TDF vehicles were destroyed in the attack.
During late 1987 Brig. S. Zwelendaba replaced Lt. Gen. N.D. Mlandu as commander of the CDF. During the following year relations with South Africa improved. Members of the CDF were again allowed to attend SADF courses in South Africa. At this stage Colonel Oupa Gqozo was military attaché in Pretoria (from 1 April 1988 with the rank of brigadier), an appointment which followed that of deputy commander of the CDF. Brigadier Gqozo returned to Ciskei as Chief of Staff Intelligence during December 1989/January 1990.
On 4 March 1990 a coup against Chief Lennox Sebe took place under the leadership of Lt. Col. Jamangile (the second in command of 1 Ciskei Battalion in Bisho) and a Capt. Zantzi, during which various Sebe loyalists were removed, including Brig. Zwelendaba and Brig. Sixishe (the second in command of the CDF). Apparently, this move was intended to forestall a similar coup attempt by Lt. Gen. Kwane Sebe at a time when Chief Lennox Sebe was overseas. (Kwane Sebe was the commander of the Elite Unit, a type of national intelligence service, which was subsequently disbanded.) Chief of Staff Intelligence, Brig. Gqozo, was requested to lead the new government. The military council of state was composed of Gqozo as chairman, and three others, including Lt. Col. S. Pita (presently the vice-chairman) who was commander of 1 Ciskei Battalion at the time. Col. Andrew Jamangile, the second in command of 1 Ciskei Battalion, was promoted to brigadier and appointed as Chief of the CDF on 1 April 1990. Initially the council adopted a tolerant attitude towards all parties, including the ANC but this was soon to change.
Violence erupted during the celebrations that followed the coup, particularly in Mdantsane, and upon the request of Brig. Gqozo the SADF entered Ciskei on 6 March to protect RSA persons and property.
In mid-1990 five lt. col.'s were seconded from the SADF to the CDF. An additional two colonels were recruited directly from the SADF The seconded SADF officers filled the following posts: Chief of Staff Personnel, Intelligence, Operations, Finance and Logistics. This increased efficiency and control dramatically. A number of former SADF officers also joined the CDF on contract as well as in a permanent force capacity.
On 28 January 1991 there was yet another coup attempt, this time unsuccessfully so, led by Lt. Col. Zantsi (SSO Intelligence). A number of military officers were arrested thereafter and Lt. Col. Poyo was appointed as acting commander of the CDF. The coup was apparently instigated by Charles Sebe and Onward Guzana, both of whom were killed in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
It would appear as if the two coups have reduced the number of trained, qualified and senior Ciskei officers substantially. Brig. Gqozo again requested additional SADF training and other assistance for the CDF. As a result, in April 1991 Brig. M. Oelschig was seconded from the SADF and took over as Chief of the CDF with Col. D.A. van der Bank as second in command. Van der Bank later joined the CDF in a permanent capacity. These developments assisted in professionalising the CDF. As is the case in Bophuthatswana and Venda, the SADF followed a system whereby it identified a CDF understudy for each of its officers, with a clear programme of affirmative action.
In April/May 1991 former SADF colonel Jan Breytenbach (of 32 Battalion) and a number of colleagues arrived in Ciskei under private contract to establish a Parachute Regiment. Financial resistance to the project (which would have cost R52 million) on the part of South Africa eventually led to its severe curtailment and, after a confrontation between members of the CDF, Breytenbach and his colleagues left Ciskei.
Then, on 7 September 1992, came the Bisho incident, a confrontation between marchers and the CDF when a group of ANC demonstrators attempted to outflank the CDF forces deployed to counter any march on Bisho. The CDF opened fire, leaving scores of people dead and injured. Following this, the houses of ninety soldiers were destroyed. Terror had provoked counter-terror. The CDF suffered a crisis in morale and, in the events that followed, Brig. Oelschig was replaced by Brig. Van der Bank as Chief of the CDF.
* [NOTE: the 141 Battalion given in the source of this text seems to never have existed in the SADF]