This unit was established in April 1979 as the nucleus of a future KwaZulu defence force. Zulu chief minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi however refused “independence” for his homeland and the battalion stayed within the then-South African Defence Force.
The unit deployed to northern Namibia and southern Angola in the mid-1980s during the Border War and afterwards served at home in a counterinsurgency role. During the post-1994 integration process, the unit received large numbers of former uMkhonto we Sizwe, Azanian People’s Liberation Army, and later members of the Self Protection Units.
Because of its Zulu roots 121SAI is affiliated with the Royal Regiment of Wales, the successor to the 24th Foot, the unit that lost the battle of Isandlwana in 1879 and fought at Rorke’s Drift.
Current role: Motorised Infantry
Current base: Mtubatuba, KwaZulu-Natal