Originally the SADF did not plan to provide Transkei with anything except a home guard. But Prime Minister Chief K.D. Matanzima pushed for an own Defence Force and the Transkei Defence Force (TDF) was established in 1975. Transkei became independent in 1976. The SADF assisted with training of the TDF until 1978 when the then State President, Chief Kaiser Matanzima, terminated the services of Brig. Pretorius and his seconded staff from the SADF. They returned to South Africa amidst accusations of running a parallel administration system, one for whites and another for blacks. Brig. Pretorius had established a battalion base to the west of Umtata and, upon establishment, the TDF had received a gift of equipment for an infantry company from the SADF.
With the re-establishment of relations between South Africa and Transkei in 1981/2, the TDF received a second gift of equipment from the SADF to the value of about R2 million to replace the original equipment which had been badly run down.
In 1982 the Minister of Defence and Prime Minister, G.M Matanzima, announced the employment of a group of expatriate advisors from the former Rhodesia. The group of about 30 former Rhodesians had actually commenced employment in Transkei in March 1981 under the auspices of the Security Services Transkei Company (SST). Chief K.D. Matanzima retired as State President in February 1986 and was succeeded by his brother, Chief George Matanzima.
On 19 February 1987 a truckload of special forces from Transkei unsuccessfully attacked the home in Bisho of the Ciskei President, Chief Lennox Sebe. The raid from the Transkei was, apparently, under the overall control of the former members of the Rhodesian Security Forces, although Prime Minister George Matanzima refused to admit Transkeian involvement in the raid. It appeared to be aimed at the overthrow of Chief Lennox Sebe but failed. This, together with resistance to the raid from elements within the Transkei, played an important role in the ascendance to power first of Ms. Stella Sigcau and later Maj. Gen. Bantu Holomisa.
In April 1987, the contracts of 27 white army officers, including the former Rhodesians, were terminated and a group of 20 of these men, including their commander, Maj. Gen. Ron Reid Daly, were expelled from the country. Rumours of a coup attempt by former State President Kaiser Matanzima followed the expulsions and the botched raid earned Transkei the enmity of South Africa which had considered the ex-Rhodesians to be a stabilising factor.
At the same time as the expulsion, Chief George Matanzima announced that Brig. Holomisa, who had been released as a result of public pressure after nine weeks detention, would be promoted to the rank of major general and would succeed General Zondwa Mtirara as commander of the TDF, who resigned. Brig. Holomisa was detained by the Government apparently on the grounds that he was agitating against the role of white officers in the TDF as well as stirring disaffection on the basis of corruption within the Matanzima government.
On 23 September 1987 TDF soldiers served resignation letters on the Transkei cabinet. Chief George Matanzima officially resigned on 2 October in the wake of mounting proof of corruption. Ms. Stella Sigcau was elected as the new Prime Minister but the TDF took over the administration of the Transkei in a bloodless coup on 30 December 1987, after only 86 days. Maj. Gen. Holomisa declared martial law and suspended the Transkei constitution, alleging that Ms. Sigcau had also been involved in corruption. A military council was formed which is still in power today.