8 South African Infantry Battalion

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8 South African Infantry Battalion (8 SAI)
8 SAI shoulder flash v2.jpg
8 SAI Insignia
ActiveOctober 1973 - present
Country South Africa
Allegiance South Africa
Branch South African Army
RoleMechanised infantry
Part ofSouth African Infantry Formation
Garrison/HQUpington Northern Cape Province
Motto(s)Perservate et Superate[1] (Conquer through perseverance)
EquipmentRatel IFV, Ratel 90 (ex 61 Mech), Ratel 81 (ex 61 Mech), Ratel 60
Battle honours
Battle Honours
South West Africa/Angola 1976-1989
Mavinga II
Mavinga III
Cuito Cuanaval
Company level InsigniaSA Army Company Insignia.png
SA Mechanised Infantry beret bar circa 1992
SA mechanised infantry beret bar circa 1992

8 South African Infantry Battalion is a mechanized infantry unit of the South African Army.[2] The battalion is equipped with Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) used for fast transport and combat mobility across rough ground. Support weapons for mechanized infantry are also provided with motorized transport, or are built directly into these IFVs, in order to keep pace with the IFVs in combat. The battalion was raised at Upington in the Northern Cape in 1973, and assigned to the Infantry Formation.

8 SAI continues to train for conventional warfare and forms part of the annual brigade-level Lohatla Army Battle School exercise.[3] Training includes IFV-mounted and dismounted fire-and-move drills, and integration with Engineers, Armour, Artillery and Air Force elements.[4]

Ratel 20 IFV typical fighting section layout
SA Mechanised Infantry Ordnance



The unit was established at Upington in the Northern Cape in October 1973 and received its first batch of national service trainees the next January. They could, however, not cope with the Gordonia heat and the unit afterwards received trainees in July.(1987 Intake was in February) In its first decade 8 SAI was a motorised Infantry battalion. The Battalion primarily deployed with Buffel APCs at that stage.

Battalion Storm Pioneer Platoon[edit]

8 SAI had a storm/assault pioneer capability in the 1980s, usually designated Oscar Company. Assault pioneers were the integral combat engineering component of the battalion. Assault pioneers were trained in tasks such as:

  • Field defences and obstacles,
  • Mine detection and removal,
  • Primary demolitions,
  • Non standard bridging,
  • Anchorages and suspension traverses

The Pioneer Platoon provided small tasks and close support capabilities to the battalion ensuring immediacy of response and decreasing the workload of the engineer squadrons. By the 1990s this function was retired to the Engineering Corps however.

Battalion Tactical Reconnaissance Platoon[edit]

8 SAI experimented with the tactical reconnaissance platoon concept for infantry units around 1981-1982 at Riemvasmaak. These abbreviated reconnaissance courses were given by the SA Special Forces to certain SADF units. The other term used for this training was the junior recce course.

SADF era Junior Recce proficiency badge conducted at Riemvasmaak in the early 80s

Mechanised infantry training at 8 SAI[edit]

By 1976 infantry operations transformed drastically when the Ratel Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) was introduced for the first time and in November the first Ratel course was presented at 1 SAI. Similar to 1 SAI, 8 SAI was transformed into a mechanised unit by the mid 1980s and mechanised leaders followed a similar training route.

All students attended the course until the Section Leaders Phase had been completed. Section Leaders were then awarded their Lance Corporal stripes and then placed with regular rifle companies. The rest of the future NCOs also received their stripes and future Officers received their white Candidate Officer's tabs. These students were then evaluated and split into the Mechanised Platoon Commanders Course and Specialist Instructors Course. These platoon commanders were destined to either become future leaders of 8 SAIs rifle companies or instructors at the Training Wing, while the Specialist Instructors would become Officers and NCO's responsible for training of Ratel gunners and drivers.

  • All students qualifying as Section Leaders were authorised to wear one parallel yellow bar above their two Corporal stripes.
  • Students that qualified as Platoon NCOs were authorised to wear two parallel yellow bars. The Platoon NCOs were responsible for the support of the vehicles, guns and signal equipment of a specific platoon.
  • Students that completed either the Platoon Commanders or Specialist Instructors Course were permitted to wear three parallel yellow bars above their stripes, signifying their platoon sergeant status. Platoon sergeants were responsible for the training and discipline of an allocated platoon.
SADF era 8 SAI Mechanised Leader Brassards 1980s
Blits 2 exercise certificate, Lohatla Army Battle School 1993

The Border War/Angolan Civil War[edit]

Between 1979 and 1989, 8 SAI participated in the Border War. 8 SAI directly contributed troops to the following operations:

Bases in South West Africa[edit]

Elements of 8 SAI was seconded to routine operations during this period to the following bases:

Battle surrounding Cuito Cuanavale[edit]

Attack on Calueque Dam[edit]

The Cubans opened a second front on 27 June 1988 against the South Africans and launched a ground offensive in the direction of Calueque Dam in Southern Angola. The area to the north of the dam became the scene of fighting. MiG-23 aircraft attacked the facilities, bombing a bridge, sluice gates, a pump, a generator, and a pipeline to Ovamboland in three waves.[7] 7 soldiers from 8 SAI and 4 from 1 SSB/10 Armoured Squadron lost their lives in this engagement.[8]

8 SAI and 63 Mech[edit]

By 1989, 8 SAI had also become a feeder unit for 63 Mechanised Battalion Group, part of 60 Brigade.

63 Mech Battalion Group emblem

Citizen Force secondment[edit]

After a national serviceman's time had ended with 8 SAI, the vast majority were eventually assigned to Citizen Force Mech Regiments such as Regiment de la Rey, Regiment Northern Transvaal and the Cape Town Highlanders.

South Africa internal operations[edit]

From 1990, the unit deployed internally in South Africa. Its main tasks at this time included counter insurgency in urban and rural areas.[9] In late 2019 the unit was reportedly deployed in a number of communities in Cape Town to combat gang violence[10] by supporting police operations.[11]

8 SAI preparing for joint training with 61 Mech Battalion, Lohatla Army Battle School 1993
8 SAI COIN operations using airborne infil northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, 1993

Since 1994[edit]

In June 1994, the unit received its SANDF Colours, the first presented to a unit in the new South African National Defence Force.[12]

8 SAI Ratel IFVs on maneuver at Lohatla Army Battle School, Northern Cape

Amalgamation with 61 Mech[edit]

In 2006, 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group was disbanded and most of its members and mechanised equipment were transferred to 8 SAI.

61 Mech Battalion amalgamated with 8 SAI post 1994

8 SAI's main training area, at Riemvasmaak, north of Upington, was transferred to a civilian community. Since then 8 SAI uses the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatla as its main training area.[13][14]


8 SAI was again redeployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of Operation Mistral under the auspices of MONUSCO from December 2009 to May 2010 and from November 2011 to June 2012.

Mamba Mk 2 APC used by 8 SAI in peacekeeping operations

8 SAI Mechanised Fleet early 1990s[edit]

Alpha or attack vehicles[edit]

SA Infantry Alpha attack vehicles

1 Ratel 20 per section, 3 sections per platoon, 3 platoons per company. 1 Ratel command per platoon, 4 per company.

Charlie or support vehicles[edit]

SA Infantry Charlie Support Vehicles



Vehicle mounted weapons[edit]

8 SAI is equipped with Ratel 20 Infantry Fighting Vehicles,[18] Ratel 60 mm (2.4 in) Mortar Platform Vehicles, Ratel Command Vehicles with mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns, Ex 61

Mech Ratel 90s and Ratel 81mms, Kwevoel 100 Armoured Trucks for IFV Recovery, field maintenance, fuel bunkers and water provision,[19] Samil 50 and 100 logistics trucks, Samil 20 trucks for its organic field workshops, Casspir APCs for its forward artillery observation party,[citation needed] and Rinkhals Field Ambulance.[20] 8 SAI has also used Buffel IFVs and Mambas at certain stages in its history. Ratel mounted weapons include the Denel Land Systems GI-2 20 mm (0.79 in) Quick Firing Cannon (QFC) (Ratel mounted), 60 mm (2.4 in) breech-loading mortar (Ratel mounted), Browning M1919 [21] Machine gun and the Browning M2 12.75 mm (0.502 in) Machine gun.[21]

Badger IFV earmarked for replacement of the Ratel Fleet 2016 onwards
SANDF exercise Seboka 2007 8 SAI Ratels with 1 SSB Rooikats

Lighter and personal weapons[edit]

8 SAI is equipped with the:

  • Vektor SS77 Squad Automatic Machine gun,
  • Fabrique Nationale 7.62 mm (0.300 in) Light Machine gun,
  • Vektor R4 5.56 mm (0.219 in) assault rifle, 40 mm (1.6 in)
  • Multiple Grenade Launcher (MGL),
  • Rocket Propelled grenade launcher (RPG-7),[citation needed]
  • M26 Fragmentation grenade,[22]
  • M1/M4 60 mm (2.4 in) patrol mortar (PATMOR), and the Denel[clarification needed] 99 mm (3.9 in)
  • FT5 rocket launcher.[23]


Under Project Hoefyster, the SANDF will eventually replace the Ratel family of vehicles with the Badger system.[24][25][26]

Nine versions are contemplated of which three are earmarked for mechanized infantry battalions such as 8 SAI:[27][28][29]

  • Command (turreted 12.7mm MG for self-defence, multiple radios and command post equipment)
  • Mortar (turreted 60mm breech loading long-range mortar)
  • Missile (turreted Denel ZT3 Ingwe)
  • Section (turreted 30mm cannon)
  • Fire Support (turreted 30mm cannon, but with more ammunition than the section vehicle)
  • Signal variant
  • Ambulance variant
  • Artillery variant
Badger IFV front and rear views
8 SAI Commemorative coin
SADF 8 SAI affiliation certificate
SADF 8 SAI challenge coin


Previous Dress Insignia[edit]

SADF era 8 SAI insignia

Current Dress Insignia[edit]

SANDF era Infantry Formation insignia

Unit song[edit]

Ou Kalahari Wysie
Ver in die Noord-Kaapse duineveld waar gemsbokke nog baljaar,
Daar word 'n seun tot 'n vegter wat leer om sy land te bewaar
Selfs deur die snikhete somer en deur die winter kou,
Leer ons en werk ons en veg ons want ons land is ons hoogste trou.

Ver in die Noord-Kaapse duineveld weg van die stad se gewoel,
Daar leer die manne van 8 SAI te streef na die hoogste doel,
Onder die vry-bloue hemel en ongerepte natuur,
Toon ons ons ware karakter, wys ons ons krag en vuur.[1]

Battle honours[edit]

  • Southwest/Angola 1979-1989
  • Mulemba/Mulola
  • Xangongo/Ongiva
  • Mavinga II
  • Mavinga III
  • Cuito Cuanavale
  • Calueque


Training Battalion[edit]

From Honorary Colonel To
From Officer Commanding To
1973 Cmdt Tobie Hanekom c. 1975
1976 Cmdt P.J. Bakkes c. 1977
1977 Cmdt M.F. Botha c. 1979
c. 1984 Cmdt Piet Müller c. 1987
c. 1987 Col Johan Jooste[a] c. 1990
c. 1990 Col Jan Malan[30] c. 1993
c. 2000 Lt Col Johan Alberts c. 2003
c. 2008 Maj G. Madella c. 2008
c. 2017 Lt Col L. Moshwana c. 2017
From Regimental Sergeant Major To
c. 1973 WO1 D.H. van Niekerk c. 1976
c. 1977 WO1 Sherman c. 1979
c. 1979 WO1 J.J. Bronkhorst c. 1982
c. Nd WO1 C. Schutte c. Nd
c. 1990 WO1 E. Palmer c. Nd
c. 1993 WO1 A.C. Barnard c. Nd

Operational Battalion[edit]

From Officer Commanding To
1989 Col Kobus van den Bergh c. nd
1992 Cmdt G.J. Oberholzer c. nd
1992 Cmdt J.J. Steyn c. nd
From Regimental Sergeant Major To
c. 1989 WO1 Wiesse c. Nd
c. 1990 WO1 H. Engelbrecht c. Nd


  1. ^ Previously OC 31 Battalion (SWATF)


  1. ^ a b "8 SAI Infantry Battalion /Infanterie Bataljon". sadf.info. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  2. ^ "SA Army Infantry Formation: Contact Us". army.mil.za. RSA Department of Defence. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  3. ^ http://www.dod.mil.za/news/news2007/nov2007/pages14_15.pdf
  4. ^ Monick, S. (1992). "The forging of a strike force". Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies. 22 (3). doi:10.5787/22-3-324. ISSN 2224-0020. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  5. ^ http://www.themukiwa.com/rhodesianwar/southafrica.htm
  6. ^ "Operation Carrot (1981)". 61 Mech Battalion Group Veterans Association. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Sentinel Projects: 27th June 1988 Calueque Dam Bomb Damage". Sadf.sentinelprojects.com. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  8. ^ Bernard E. Trainor (30 June 1988). "Pretoria Says Angola Raid Is Threat to Talks on Peace". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  9. ^ Baker, Deane-Peter; Jordaan, Evert, eds. (2010). South Africa and Contemporary Counterinsurgency: Roots, Practices, Prospects. Claremont: International Publishers Marketing. ISBN 978-1-919895-33-8.
  10. ^ "Full details of Western Cape army deployment still sought". defenceWeb. 15 July 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
  11. ^ "The Army has landed". CapeTalk. 14 July 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  12. ^ Engelbrecht, Leon (2 March 2010). "Fact file: 8 SA Infantry Battalion". defenceweb.co.za. DefenceWeb. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Riemvasmaak". SADF.info. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  14. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (9 October 2008). "Exercise Seboka in home stretch". defenceWeb. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Operation Curriculum – Burundi". Dod.mil.za. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  16. ^ "SABC News - SANDF gives details of Sudan casualties:Sunday 13 March 2016". Sabc.co.za. 13 March 2016. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  17. ^ "SA soldier killed in Sudan ambush". defenceWeb. 10 March 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  18. ^ IDRC; Cock, Jacklyn; Mckenzie, Penny (1998). From defence to development : redirecting military resources in South Africa (PDF). Cape Town, South Africa & Ottawa, Canada: David Philip, International Development Research Centre. ISBN 0-88936-853-8. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  19. ^ "Samil 100 Kwevoel Armoured Truck". Tips Transport.
  20. ^ "Vehicles:Denel Mechem". Denel.
  21. ^ a b "Ratel". GlobalSecurity.org.
  22. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (17 February 2010). "Fact file: M26 fragmentation hand grenade". defenceWeb. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  23. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (8 November 2010). "Work underway on RPG replacement". defenceWeb. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  24. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (5 March 2009). "SA Army horse shod by December?". defenceWeb. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  25. ^ Natalie Greve. "Land Systems SA secures sights contract for Denel's Badger". Engineeringnews.co.za. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  26. ^ http://www.tanks-encyclopedia.com/modern/south-africa/Badger
  27. ^ "South Africa's Next IFV: Honey Badger Doesn't Care". Defenseindustrydaily.com. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  28. ^ "Badger reaches Product Baseline One milestone". defenceWeb. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  29. ^ Guy Martin (11 August 2016). "SANDF projects". defenceWeb. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  30. ^ http://samilitaryhistory.org/17/17decnl.html