The bantustans (officially called Homelands) were territorial entities created between 1970-1989 by the government of South Africa for the purpose of giving a legislative justification for certain aspects of apartheid.

The 20 territories (10 in South-Africa and 10 in occupied South-West Africa) were declared to be the the homelands of the various African ethnic groups living in that part of the continent and laws were passed making all members of these ethnic groups, whether they had been born there or not, "citizens" of the so-called homelands. In doing so, they were striped of their South African citizenship thus giving a legal excuse to the government to treat those who hadn't been deported to the bantustans as foreigners.

Bantustans were given many trapping of sovereign countries and eventually 4 of them (Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, Transkei & Venda) were officially granted independence although due to their nature as well as their blatant political and economical reliance on South-Africa, only the later and each others ever afforded them diplomatic recognition despite much lobbying from the South African government.

Upon the end of apartheid, the bantustans were simply re-absorbed into either South Africa or Namibia, the later for those which had been detached from South-West Africa.


All 4 independent bantustans had their own de jure distinct police service and armed forces although de facto, they were trained by and often behave more like auxiliaries to the South African uniformed services. All of their services followed south African patterns in term of uniforms and insignias with just enough changes to give them an air of independence. These however were more in terms of differently shaped officer pips and not fundamental differences in term of rank progression which, due to the rapport between the bantustans and their south African counterparts, would probably have lead to unwanted confusion.

Many of the bantustan's insignias appear to have been made with economy in mind so that a few were made of plastic instead of metal and some rank insignias were printed, either with plain ink or with a rubber-like material that gave it a raised look closer to embroidery. Other, mainly dress items, appear to have been made with the same level of quality as equivalent items made for the South African Forces and indeed, some items used by the later where produced under contract within the bantustans.

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