Names of three of four Cape Town Army Reserve Force units changed


The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has confirmed that names of three of the four Army Reserve Force units that contain the words “Cape” or “Cape Town” have been officially changed.

This is in line with the SANDF’s renaming process to remove colonial and other seemingly offensive names and symbols from the part-time component of the South African Army.

The following Army Reserve Force units have officially changed their names:

  • Cape Town Rifles (The Dukes) to Chief Langalibalele Rifles
  • Cape Field Artillery to Nelson Mandela Artillery Regiment
  • Cape Garrison Artillery to Autshumato Anti-Aircraft Regiment

Brigadier General Andries Mahapa (Director Defence Corporate Communication) told defenceWeb that “the publication of a DoD Bulletin confirming the final name changes is still to be published, as the above names were promulgated by the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans in February 2022.”

The SANDF stated in 2019 that the change of names for 52 Reserve Force units was because “military traditions in SA Army Reserve units reflect only those from the South African Defence Force (SADF) and its predecessor, the Union Defence Force (UDF). The military traditions and history of indigenous African military formations and liberation armies involved in the freedom struggle have yet to be reflected in SA Army Reserve units.”

Thus, “the aim of the name review process (is) to address this omission in a balanced and innovative way,” with a name review steering committee established to manage the name change process.

Soon after the new names were announced in October 2019, then Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato pointed out in a letter to then SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, that retaining “Cape Town” and “Cape” in Reserve Force regiment names is necessary to ensure the brands continue to exist.

Plato noted that the City was not aware of any approach made to the City of Cape Town to comment on proposed name changes.

“The City is an interested stakeholder because there are units within its boundaries whose staffing is drawn from citizens of the City. Further the City has granted Freedom of Entry to a number of units. We have a responsibility to ensure the Cape Town brand continues to be promoted.”

The four units referred to are the Cape Town Rifles, Cape Town Highlanders, Cape Field Artillery and Cape Garrison Artillery.

“We are concerned the name changes would result in the loss of the words ‘Cape Town’ from all units while other cities and town continue to hold the privilege of units which include their names,” Plato said.

The Cape Town Highlanders was due to be known as Gonnema Regiment, but it appears that this reserve mechanised infantry regiment founded in 1885 and based at the Castle Barracks, Cape Town, will retain its original name.

Mahapa said that “Cape Town Highlanders has not officially changed its name and remain known as the Cape Town Highlanders.”

A defenceWeb enquiry to the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC) in January this year revealed that the three years set down for name and insignia changes for the renamed Army Reserve regiments/units had seen just two units complete the necessary work.

These units were the Ihawu and Umkhonto field engineer regiments.

Mahapa stated then that units were expected to have “new emblems, unit flags and regimental colours before 31 March 2022”.