Police decorations and medals
June 2009

Police decorations and medals : overview

A LARGE part of the South African honours system consists of orders, decorations, and medals for members of the various police forces which have existed over the past century.

No less than eighteen series of police awards, including orders of merit, decorations for bravery and distinguished service, campaign medals, commemorative medals, and long service medals, have been established since 1923, but only two series are currently in use.

SA Police — The SA Police had two successive series of awards. The first series was introduced in 1923, and was used until 1963, when a second series was instituted, as part of the post-republic honours system. The SAP used the second series until 1995, when it was incorporated into the new SA Police Service.

SA Railways Police Force — The SA Railways Police Force followed SAP organisation and methods, and modelled its decorations and medals on those of the SAP too. Their first series of awards was introduced in 1934. It was superseded in 1966 by a second series, which was used until the SARPF was incorporated into the SAP in 1986.

SWA Police — The South African-administered territory of South West Africa had its own police force from 1919 to 1939 and again from 1981 until 1990. A series of decorations and medals was instituted for the SWAP in 1981, and it was used until the force was disbanded in 1990.

Homeland Police Forces — Each of the ten African homelands within South Africa, which were granted self-government or independence between 1976 and 1986, had its own police force. Each homeland government instituted its own series of police awards : for the Transkei Police in 1976; the Ciskei Police in 1981; the KwaZulu Police in 1982; the Bophuthatswana Police in 1983; the Gazankulu Police in 1983; the QwaQwa Police in 1985; both the Venda National force and its successor the Venda Police in 1985; the KaNgwane Police in 1986; the KwaNdebele Police in 1987; and the Lebowa Police in 1990.

The homeland police awards became obsolete when the ten forces were integrated into the new SA Police Service in 1995.

SA Police Service — The SAPS, formed by amalgamating the SAP and the ten homeland police forces in 1995, took over the former SAP decorations and medals and used them until 2004, when the current series was instituted.

Municipal/Metropolitan Police — Local authorities' police forces were brought under the SAPS Act in 1998. A series of decorations and medals, corresponding to those of the SAPS, was instituted in 2008.

 
© Arthur Radburn
 
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