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Bophuthatswana (South African homeland)

Last modified: 2013-02-08 by bruce berry
Keywords: south africa | homeland | bophutatswana | leopard's face | bop |
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image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2006 See also:

Bophuthatswana - introduction

Within the "old" South Africa, 10 homelands were created, four of which were granted "independence" by South Africa (not recognised by any other country in the world).  Bophuthatswana was one of the four so-called "independent" homelands having been granted independence by South Africa on 06 December 1977. All the former South African Homelands/bantustans ceased to exist as political entities on 27 April 1994. They have all (including the former so called independent Homelands) been reincorporated into South Africa.

The flags of the former Homelands are no longer in use (either officially or unofficially).
Bruce Berry, 25 April 1996

Bophuthatswana was a relatively large territory, vastly dispersed across the central to western Transvaal and into the north-eastern Cape Province (today's northwestern-most Mpumalanga and North-West Province). Six main parts, three of which, smaller, in Transvaal (with the easternmost one briefly bordering KwaNdebele), and two other (one of which quite large) in the Cape Province; the sixth, very uncompact shaped unlike the others, stretching between the two provinces and extensively bordering Botswana.
Antonio Martins, 30 May 1999

There was a portion of Bophuthatswana in Orange Free State at Thaba Nchu - about 50 km east of Bloemfontein (today in the Free State province).
Bruce Berry, 31 May 1999


Bophuthatswana flag

The design of the flag of Bophuthatswana was originally set out in section 2 of the Bophuthatswana Flag Act of 1972, which reads as follows:
"The Bophuthatswana flag shall be Azure with a bar sinister Tenne, in Dexter chief a roundel Argent charged with a leopard's face Sable pied Argent.
The width of the flag shall be equal to two-thirds of its length.
The width of the bar shall be one-twelfth of the length of the flag.
The diameter of the roundel shall be one-quarter of the length of the flag".
The blue symbolises the infinity of the sky and the striving for progress and development. The orange bar refers to the golden path which must be taken by the Tswana people in order to bring this development to fruition. The leopard's face is symbolic of the authority necessary to lead the people to the development of their potential. Leopards are traditional symbols of authority for the Tswana people.
The flag was taken into use on 19 April 1973 after the homeland achieved internal self-government on 01 June 1972.
The flag remained unchanged when the homeland became "independent" on 6 December 1977 and a description of this flag was incorporated into section 2 of the Republic of Bophuthatswana Constitution Act.
Bophuthatswana was re-incorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994 and ceased to exist as a separate political entity and the flag is no longer in use.
Bruce Berry, 01 Dec 1998

image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2006

In the Bophuthatswana flags the leopard's head seems to be the one really used. Perhaps it was taken from the first design adopted by the Legislative Assembly in 19 April 1972, that was red over green horizontal with white circle in center and within it a leopard's head and rejected November 1973 when the well know flag was adopted.
Jaume Ollé, 12 Apr 2001

Regarding the former flags of the South African homelands;
- how much did the actual flags of the homelands differ from the original specifications, and why?
- how much variation was in between different specimens of the same flag?
- what is the reason for the widely differing representations in flag publications?
Marcus Schmöger, 28 Jan 2007

The simple answer to the questions is manufacturer's licence. There was some variation in the flags made by the various manufacturers, most notably the detail for the  leopard's head in the flag of Bophuthatswana and the Blue Crane in the flag of Ciskei. As reported on FOTW, despite the specifications of the Ciskei flag as described in the Ciskei Flag Act not conforming to the official art-card, the proportions of the blue and white stripes were followed as per the art-card and not as per the specifications. This could possibly explain the variations in various flag publications (which was actually the official specification???). However, one manufacturer produced flags showing the twig in the beak of the Blue Crane (as was the case in the Coat of Arms) although this was never specified for the flag. This manufacturer subsequently won a Ciskei Government contract to supply flags and despite the error being pointed out (by me actually!!!), the flags were made and the contract honoured!

The majority of the variations were with the Ciskei flag, while the others were quite minor being mainly different colour shades and in the case of Venda, different fonts were used for the "V".
Bruce Berry, 08 Feb 2007


President's flag

image by Jens Pattke, 13 Jan 2013

The Presidential standard of the President of Bophuthatswana has a dark blue field, in the centre of which is the national coat of arms of Bophuthatswana. This design is the same as that of the flag used by the President of South Africa between 1961 and 1983, which in turn is based on the design of the flag used by the Governor-General of South Africa between 1931 and 1961.

There is some debate as to whether this flag was actually flown, although there is photographic evidence of it being used as a car flag.

FFollowing the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa on 27 April 1994, the post of President of Bophuthatswana was abolished and consequently this flag is no longer in use.
Bruce Berry, 13 Jan 2013

Flaggenmitteilung 102 mentions an orange presidential flag with narrow border of blue and white stripes in four sides, with arms in center.   It also mentions a distinctive car-flag as being a black flag bordered yellow, with a white circle in centre containing the arms.
Jaume Ollé, 12 Apr 2001


Bophuthatswana Army flag

  image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2006

The flag of the Bophuthatswana Army is in proportion 2:3 and consists of three equal vertical stripes of orange, green and orange, charged with the Bophuthatswana Defence Force badge in the centre of the green stripe.  The badge comprises a yellow roundel bearing a leopard's face surper-imposed on a yellow spear and Tswana battle axe in saltire.  The leopard's face is taken from the Bophuthatswana national flag.
The flag ceased to be used following the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Bruce Berry, 08 Dec 2006


Bophuthatswana Defence Force flag

  image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2006

The flag of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force is in proportion 2:3 and consists of three equal vertical stripes of orange, blue and orange, charged with the Bophuthatswana Defence Force badge in the centre of the green stripe.  The badge comprises an orange roundel bearing a leopard's face surper-imposed on a orange spear and Tswana battle axe in saltire.  The leopard's face is taken from the Bophuthatswana national flag. 
The flag ceased to be used following the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Bruce Berry, 08 Dec 2006


Bophuthatswana Police flag

  image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2006

The Bophuthatswana Police flag registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry on 20 February 1984 with the following description:
A rectangular flag, proportions three by two, consisting of two horizontal bands of equal width, maroon over green, charged in the centre with the badge of the Bophuthatswana Police (to wit: a facetted nine-pointed star Or, charged with an annulet Murry bearing the name BOPHUTHATSWANA POLICE in letters Or, there-within on a plate the arms of the Republic of Bophuthatswana, proper).
Source: Data of the Bureau of Heraldry on registered heraldic representations.
Mark Sensen, 19 May 2002

 sent by Jens Pattke, 15 Nov 2004

Here is a photo from the German Vexillological Meeting in held in Jena, 2004.  The Bophuthatswana Police flag is horizontally divided dark red (to brown) and green with the police badge in the centre.  Thanks to flag supporters Jorg Karaschewski and Dr. Andreas Herzfeld. Both vexillologists are members of German Vexillological Society.
Jens Pattke, 15 Nov 2004

image by Martin Grieve, 08 Dec 2006

The flag of the Bophuthatswana Police is in proportion 2:3 and consists of two equal horizontal stripes of maroon over olive green.  The badge of the Bophuthatswana Police is placed in the centre of the flag and comprises a yellow nine-pointed star charged in the centre on a white field with the coat of arms of Bophuthatswana in full colour within a red annulet bearing the words BOPHUTHATSWANA POLICE in white letters.

The flag ceased to be used following the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Bruce Berry, 08 Dec 2006


Bophuthatswana Prisons Service

image by Jens Pattke, 13 Jan 2013

The flag of the Bophuthatswana Prisons Service follows the same design as that of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force and consists of three equal vertical stripes of green, blue and green with the badge of the Bophuthatswana Prisons Service placed in the centre of the blue stripe. The badge is a gold facetted nine-pointed star bearing, in the centre, on a yellow field, the coat of arms of Bophuthatswana in full colour within a white ring with the words BOPHUTHATSWANA PRISONS in black letters.

image by Jens Pattke, 13 Jan 2013

Following the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa on 27 April 1994, this flag is no longer in use and the flag of the South African Department of Correctional Services is flown, alongside the South African national flag, at all prisons.
Bruce Berry, 13 Jan 2013


Bophuthatswana Internal Intelligence Service flag

image by Jens Pattke, 19 Aug 2012

The flag of the Bophuthatswana Internal Intelligence Service was registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry on 19 April 1985 with the following description:
On a blue flag, proportions three by two, an old gold pile reversed charged with a ratel statant proper, in the canton a demi-leopard gardant also proper, holding in its forepaws a gold Tswana battle-axe erect.
Source: Data of the Bureau of Heraldry on registered heraldic representations.

This flag ceased to be used following the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa on 27 April 1994.
Mark Sensen, 19 May 2002


Bophuthatswana Coat of Arms

  scan by Bruce Berry, 08 Dec 2006

By Government Notice No. 1599, published in the South African Government Gazette (Number 3644 of 08 September 1972) it was notified that a coat of arms had been registered for the Tswana Legislative Assembly in terms of the South African Heraldry Act (Act No. 18 of 1962).  Although application and registration was made in terms of the Heraldry Act (Government Notice 1599 in Government Gazette 3644 of 08 September 1972), the State Herald did not issue a formal certificate of registration in respect of these arms as they had been devised without consultation of the Bureau of Heraldry.  

These Arms were retained by Bophuthatswana at independence and are described and illustrated in Section 2 of the Republic of Bophuthatswana Constitution Act (Act No. 18 of 1977).  The blazon of the coat of arms is described as:

Arms:           Per fess (at nobril point) Gules and Vert, in chief a mine headgear, in base dexter three grain sorghum ears seeded in bend, and sinister an ox head caboshed in bend sinister, the shield interlaced palewise of a traditional plumed staff; behind the shield an assegai and battle-axe in saltire, Or.
Supporters:   Two leopards gardant proper.
Motto:          TSHWARAGANANG LO DIRE PULE E NE (If we stand together and work hard we will blessed with rain)..

With the re-incorporation of Bophuthatswana into South Africa in April 1994, these Arms are no longer in use.
Bruce Berry, 01 Dec 1998