South Africa is rotating it force deployed in Sudan’s troubled Darfur. 15 SA Infantry Battalion (15 SAI), a motorised infantry unit from Thohoyandou in Limpopo, is currently mustered at the De Brug Mobilisation Centre near Bloemfontein and will deploy to western Sudan in days to join the hybrid African Union/United Nations peacekeeping mission – known as UNAMID – there.
15 SAI wil be replacing 5 SAI under the SA National Defence Force’s Operation Cordite. 5 SAI, a motorised infantry battalion from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, has been in Darfur the last six months. Attached to the unit is a company from 1 Parachute Battalion from Bloemfontein.
The 15 SAI deployment will also be for a semester. The battalion was established in 1994 from the ranks of the former Venda Defence Force. The unit badge reflects its location. “Thohoyandou” means “head of the elephant”.
South Africa announced in July 2004 that it would send troops to Darfur, initially as part of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). This was integrated with the UN Mission in Sudan in 2007 to form UNAMID.
In 2010, SA’s Cordite commitment included a 611-strong infantry battalion, 12 staff officers and 13 military observers. In addition, the South African Police Service had a 165-strong “formed police unit” deployed there.