8 South African Infantry Battalion

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8 South African Infantry Battalion (8 SAI)
SADF 8 SAI Insignia.png
Active October 1973 - present
Country  South Africa
Allegiance  South Africa
Branch  South African Army
Type Infantry
Role Mechanised infantry
Size Battalion
Part of South African Infantry Corps
Garrison/HQ Upington Northern Cape Province
Motto Perservate et Superate[1] (Conquer through perseverance)
Mascot Gemsbok
Equipment Ratel IFV
  • South African Border War
  • Namibian Independence
    • Operation Agree (1990)
  • UN/AU peacekeeping
    • Operation Curriculum (2001)
    • Operation Mistral (2003)
    • Operation Cordite (2006)
    • Operation Triton (2007)
Battle honours
  • Southwest/Angola 1979-1989
  • Mulemba/Mulola
  • Xangongo/Ongiva
  • Mavinga II
  • Mavinga III
  • Cuito Cuanavale
  • Calueque
Company level Insignia SA 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] It is equipped with Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) used for fast transport and combat. The battalion uses Ratel IFVs all-wheel drive vehicles (6×6), for mobility across rough ground. Support weapons for mechanized infantry are also provided with motorized transport, or are built directly into 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]

61 Mech Battalion amalgamated with 8 SAI post 1994
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.

The Border War/Angolan Bush War

Between 1979 and 1989, 8 SAI participated in the Border War. Its contingent was known as 63 Mechanised Battalion Group, and for much of this time it fell under 60 Brigade (South Africa). 8 SAI contributed troops to the following operations:

63 Mech Battalion Group emblem

Battle of Cuito Cuanavale

Attack on Calueque Dam

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.[6] 12 soldiers from 8 SAI lost their lives in this engagement.[7]

Namibian Independence

8 SAI, as part of 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group and 63 Mech, was part of the last contingent of South African troops to withdraw from Namibia at independence in 1990 (Operation Agree) in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435 handing over responsibility to the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG).

South Africa Internal Operations

From 1990, the unit deployed internally in South Africa. Its main tasks at this time included counter insurgency in urban and rural areas.[8]

8 SAI preparing for joint training with 61 Mech Lohatla Army Battle School 1993
8 SAI COIN operations using airborne infil northern KZN 1993

From 1994

In June 1994, the unit received its Colours, the first presented to a unit in the new South African National Defence Force.[9]

Ratels IFVs on manuvere

Which brigades/Command was the unit assigned to 1990 – 1999

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

8 SAI's main training area, at Riemvasmaak, north of Upington, was returned to a civilian community. 8 SAI therefore uses Lohatla Army Battle School near Kathu (Postmasburg)as it main training area currently.[10][11]


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

Mamba Mk 2 APC used by 8 SAI in peacekeeping operations

8 SAI Mechanised Fleet early 90's

Alpha or Attack Vehicles

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

SA Infantry Charlie Support Vehicles



Vehicle mounted weapons

8 SAI is equipped with Ratel 20 Infantry Fighting Vehicles,[13] Ratel 60 mm (2.4 in) Mortar Platform Vehicles, Ratel Command Vehicles with mounted 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine guns, Kwevoel 100 Armoured Trucks for IFV Recovery, field maintenance, fuel bunkers and water provision,[14] Samil 50 and 100 logistics trucks, Samil 20 trucks for its organic field workshops, Caspar APCs for its forward artillery observation party,[citation needed] and Rinkhals Field Ambulance.[15] 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 Canon (QFC) (Ratel mounted), 60 mm (2.4 in) breech-loading mortar (Ratel mounted), Browning M1919 [16] Machine gun and the Browning M2 12.75 mm (0.502 in) Machine gun.[16]

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

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,[17] M4 60 mm (2.4 in) patrol mortar (PATMOR), and the Denel 99 mm (3.9 in) FT5 rocket launcher.[18]


Under Project Hoefyster, the SANDF will eventually replace the Ratel family of vehicles with the Badger system.[19][20]

Five versions are contemplated of which three are earmarked for mechanized Infantry Battalions such as 8 SAI:

  • Command (mech infantry)
  • Mortar (turreted 60mm breech loading long-range mortar) ( mech infantry)
  • Missile (turreted Denel ZT3 Ingwe)
  • Section (turreted 30mm cannon) (mech infantry)
  • Fire Support (turreted 30mm cannon, but with more ammunition than the section vehicle)


Previous Dress Insignia

8 SAI beret badge 
SADF Mechanised Infantry Proficiency Badge 
8 SAI Nutria shoulder flash with Northern Cape Command Bar 
8 SAI Nutria shoulder flash with North West Command Bar 
8 SAI Stapel belt original 
8 SAI Stapel belt ver 2 
8 SAI Stapel belt ver 3 mech infantry 

Current Dress Insignia

SANDF Infantry wide shoulder flash 

Unit Song

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

  • Southwest/Angola 1979-1989
  • Mulemba/Mulola
  • Xangongo/Ongiva
  • Mavinga II
  • Mavinga III
  • Cuito Cuanavale
  • Calueque
8 SAI Commemorative medal
SADF 8 SAI affiliation certificate


During the South African Border War Period, 13 soldiers from 8 SAI are recorded as having died during operations or in combat. A further 9 are recorded as having died from other causes during the history of the unit. They are all listed on the unit's Roll of Honour.

Roll of Honour


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 This person is marked on the Fort Klapperkop Memorial wall with an * as having died during operations or in combat.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "8 SAI Infantry Battalion /Infanterie Bataljon". sadf.info. Retrieved 6 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "SA Army Infantry Formation: Contact Us". army.mil.za. RSA Department of Defence. Retrieved 6 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. http://www.dod.mil.za/news/news2007/nov2007/pages14_15.pdf
  4. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  5. "Operation Carrot (1981)". 61 Mech Battalion Group Veterans Association. Retrieved 8 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. http://sadf.sentinelprojects.com/vicar/calueque.html
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/30/world/pretoria-says-angola-raid-is-threat-to-talks-on-peace.html
  8. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Engelbrecht, Leon (2 March 2010). "Fact file: 8 SA Infantry Battalion". defenceweb.co.za. DefenceWeb. Retrieved 6 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. http://sadf.info/8SAIRiemvasmaak.html
  11. http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=453&catid=50:Land&Itemid=105
  12. http://www.dod.mil.za/operations/international/op_curriculum.htm
  13. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Samil 100 Kwevoel Armoured Truck". Tips Transport.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Vehicles:Denel Mechem". Denel.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Ratel". GlobalSecurity.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6708:fact-file-m26-fragmentation-hand-grenade&catid=79:fact-files&Itemid=159
  18. http://defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10464:work-underway-on-rpg-replacement-&catid=50:Land&Itemid=105
  19. http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1244&pop=1&page=0&Itemid=418
  20. http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/land-systems-sa-secures-sights-contract-for-denels-badger-2014-07-09
  21. 21.00 21.01 21.02 21.03 21.04 21.05 21.06 21.07 21.08 21.09 21.10 21.11 21.12 21.13 21.14 21.15 21.16 21.17 21.18 21.19 21.20 21.21 21.22 Dovey, John. "SA Roll of Honour: 8th South African Infantry". justdone.co.za. Just Done Productions Publishing. Retrieved 8 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>