South African Medals Website
South Africa, and the former homelands and South West Africa
Arthur Radburn Online since 2001
Prisons service decorations and medals
Department of Correctional Services
The Prisons Department was established in October 1911. It was renamed the 'South African Prisons Service' (SAPS) in 1959, and the 'Department of Correctional Services' (DCS) in 1990. The department had three successive series of decorations and medals: 1922-68; 1968-80, and 1980-96. Medals were discontinued when the department "civilianised" in 1996.
Prisons Department : 1922-1968
The first series, introduced in September 1922, consisted of a single medal, which was used until February 1968.
Faithful Service Medal of the Prisons Department (1922-1968) Originally (1922-59) called the 'Prisons Good Service Medal'. Awarded to chief warders, head warders, and warders, for (i) particularly gallant or distinguished service, or (ii) 18 years irreproachable service. A clasp was added if the medal was awarded for bravery. The majority of the medals were granted for long service.
Insignia: A circular silver medal displaying the national coat of arms and the name of the department (obverse) and a reverse inscription which varied over the years: "For Faithful Service - Voor Trouwe Dienst" (1922-32), or "For Faithful Service - Vir Troue Diens" (1932-59), or "Vir Troue Diens - For Faithful Service" (1959-68).
SA Prisons Service : 1968-80
The second series, introduced in February 1968 and used until April 1980, consisted of three decorations and medals, corresponding to SA Police and SA Railways Police Force medals of the period.
Decoration for Valour in the SAPS (CPV) (1968-1980) For conspicuous and exceptional gallantry in the performance of duty, or in saving or protecting life or property. About a dozen awards were made.
Insignia: A gold 'Castle of Good Hope' pentagon on a 5-pointed gold star, depicting a Latin cross with the scales of justice superimposed on the upper limb and a lifebuoy on the lower, and the department's name (obverse).
Medal for Meritorious Service in the SAPS (1968-1980) For (i) particularly meritorious or exemplary service, or (ii) after 35 years exemplary service.
Insignia: A circular silver medal displaying the SA coat of arms and the department's name (obverse).
Medal for Faithful Service in the SAPS (1968-1980) For 18 years exemplary service (or 12 years for officials who already held the old 18-year long service medal).
Insignia: A bronze teardrop-shaped medal displaying the SAPS badge and the department's name (obverse). A bronze clasp was added after 33 years service.
Department of Correctional Services : 1980-96
The third series, used from April 1980 to April 1996, was modeled on SA Defence Force awards of the period.
DCS Star for Excellence (SPE) (1980-1996) Awarded by the state president, to general officers, for excellent service which promoted DCS efficiency. The first recipient was former prisons commissioner Gen Willem du Preez.
Insignia: A green-enamelled 6-armed 12-pointed gold star displaying a smaller gold star with a diamond in the centre (obverse). It is worn on a neck ribbon.
DCS Cross for Valour: Diamond (CPV) (1980-1996) To be awarded by the state president, for death-defying valour in the line of duty or in protecting or saving life or property. Apparently never awarded.
Insignia: A red-enamelled gold Maltese cross with a diamond in the centre superimposed on a white-enamelled Maltese cross (obverse).
DCS Cross for Valour: Ruby (CPF) (1980-1996) For valour in the line of duty, or in protecting or saving life or property. Altogether, 33 awards were made, the first (1982) being to WO F.E. O'Ehley, for single-handedly breaking up a prison fight, in which he was injured.
Insignia: A red-enamelled gold Maltese cross with a ruby in the centre (obverse).
DCS Star for Distinction (SPO) (1980-1996) Awarded to general officers, for exemplary service which promoted DCS efficiency.
Insignia: Same design as the SPO, but smaller, and worn on a chest ribbon.
DCS Star for Merit (SPM) (1980-1996) Awarded to officers, for outstanding service, characterised by ability, efficiency, perseverance or devotion.
Insignia: A green-enamelled, gold-plated silver 5-armed 10-pointed star with protea flowers separating the arms (obverse).
DCS Cross for Merit (CPM) (1980-1996) The equivalent decoration for warrant officers, sergeants, and warders.
Insignia: A green-enamelled gold-plated silver cross pattee.
DCS Medal for Merit (Commissioned Officers) (1980-1996) Awarded to officers, for special service, characterised by ability, efficiency, perseverance or devotion.
Insignia: An octagonal multi-rayed star, the eight principal rays gilded, displaying an open protea flower in the centre (obverse).
DCS Medal for Merit (Non-Commissioned Officers) (1980-1996) The equivalent award for warrant officers, sergeants, and warders.
Insignia: Same design as the officers' medal, but all in silver.
DCS Medal for Faithful Service (1980-1996) For faithful service and exemplary conduct. It was awarded cumulatively in three classes: Bronze after 10 years, Silver after 20 years, and Gold after 30 years. A clasp was added after 40 years service.
Insignia: A circular medal displaying the SA coat of arms inside a circle of proteas (obverse) and the DCS badge (reverse).