A Venda National Force was established at the time of independence in 1979 which initially combined policing, prisons and defence functions. In 1981 the traffic policing component was removed from the National Force and placed under the Department of Justice. Though the fire brigade is still part of the Venda Defence Force (VDF), there are plans to hand them it over to the civilian government.
The VDF was formally established separately from the National Force on 27 September 1982 when 112 Battalion in Madimbo (which fell outside the Venda territory) was disbanded within the SADF and re-established in the form of One Venda Battalion at Manenu. At that stage the battalion consisted of three companies and was essentially a light infantry battalion. Two Venda Battalion was established 1985/86. This battalion was initially housed in temporary quarters until appropriate permanent bases were completed in 1986-7.
Brig. Ramushwana, presently Chairman of the Council and Minister of Defence and National Intelligence, was second in command of the Venda Security Police before being transferred to the VDF as Chief of Staff by State President Mphephu, with the aim of his eventually succession as Chief of the VDF.
At the time of the bloodless coup on 5 April 1990, the then Colonel Ramushwana was attending the SADF Army Staff Course in Voortrekkerhoogte, Pretoria. Until that date the chief of the VDF was a seconded SADF officer, Brig. Steenkamp, with Ramushwana acting as his Chief of Staff. State President Ravele was the commander in chief and was advised by a Security Council. After the coup, Brig. Ramushwana became the chief of the VDF as well as Chairman of the Council of National Unity. A Security Working Committee (SEWOCOM) was established in place of the Security Council. The SEWOCOM consisted of Brig. Ramushwana as chairman, the Chief of Staff of the VDF, presently Col. W. Swanepoel, the Senior Staff Officer Intelligence, Senior Staff Officer Operations, the Police Commissioner, Director-General of the Venda National Intelligence, the Advocate-General and two other members of the Council of National Unity. The Committee deals with all security-related issues in Venda, including the quality of government since the coup followed wide-spread allegations of corruption and maladministration.