Name change process for Army Reserve units reaching finality


The final briefing of SA Army Reserve Force units on the details of possible name changes was conducted in the Western Cape on Wednesday by Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer.

He is the officer chosen by Army Chief, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo, to head up the name review steering committee and will now wait for submissions from Reserve Force formations nationally. The formations have until the end of June to submit possible name changes and motivations for them.

The next step for Kamffer and his committee members after this is to prepare a submission for Masondo.
“We expect to be in a position where examples of names to be changed or retained can be released by the middle of July,” he said.

Included in the criteria for name changes are that units cannot be named after living people. When the name of a dead person is nominated he or she must have played a significant role in the country’s military history. Names such as that of Doman, a Khoi-Khoi leader; Gonnema, leader of the Cochogue in the second Khoi-Khoi conflict in 1673; Xhosa chief Ngqika; Field Marshall Jan Smuts; Major General Dan Pienaar; Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Chris Hani have been put forward as suggestions.

Where place names have changed since democracy, such as Transvaal and Natal, these should not be part of unit or regiment names. “The temptation to simply update a name to the new name should be avoided wherever possible and consideration given to a new and imaginative name,” Kamffer said earlier this year.

Ethnic and tribal names are a no-no. Scottish, Irish, Zulu and Xhosa are given as examples that should not be included in new unit name suggestions but the traditions associated with these could be maintained via regimental bands or ceremonial sub-units.

Importantly, there is no indication that colours and battle honours will disappear to be forgotten in musty storerooms. If a unit changes its name it has the right to retain its colour and battle honours.