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List of South African flags

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Title: List of South African flags  
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Subject: Flag of the Cape Colony, South African heraldry, Flag of South Africa, List of flags of Kenya, List of flags of Latvia
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List of South African flags

This article lists the flags of the various colonies and states that have existed in South Africa since 1652.


Flag Date Use Description
1839-1843 Natalia Republic
1857-1902 Orange Free State
South African Republic (1) ('Vierkleur')
1870-1905 Natal (1)
1874-1875 South African Republic (2) ('Burgers Flag'). A red saltire outlined in white on a dark blue field.
1876–1910 Flag of the Cape Colony A blue ensign defaced with the shield-of-arms of Cape Colony
1883-1885 State of Goshen
1883-1885 Stellaland
1884-1888 Nieuwe Republiek
1886-1891 Klein Vrystaat
1904–1910 Orange River Colony A blue ensign defaced with a springbok antelope in a disc[1]
1904–1910 Transvaal A blue ensign defaced with a disc showing a lion lying on an African plain with palm trees.[2]
1905-1910 Natal (2) A blue ensign defaced with the Natal
1910-1912 Union of South Africa (Merchant flag)
1910-1912 Union of South Africa (State Ensign)
1912 - 1960 Union of South Africa (Merchant flag)
1912 - 1928 Union of South Africa (State Ensign)
1928 - 1994 Republic/Union of South Africa
1966-1994 Transkei
1973-1994 Bophuthatswana
1973-1994 Ciskei
1973-1994 Gazankulu
1973-1994 Venda
1974-1994 Lebowa
1975-1994 QwaQwa
1977-1985 KwaZulu (1)
1982-1994 KwaNdebele
1985-1994 KwaZulu (2)
1994 – present Republic of South Africa

Historical flags 1652–1928

National flag 1928–1994

  • The flag was introduced by the Hertzog administration, after several years of political controversy. It was approved by Parliament in 1927, and first hoisted on 31 May 1928.
  • The flag reflected the Union's predecessors. The basis was the 17th-century orange-white-blue Dutch flag, with the addition of a Union Jack to represent the Cape and Natal, the former Orange Free state flag, and the former South African Republic flag.
  • Until 1957, the flag was flown subordinate to the British Union Jack.
  • The flag remained unchanged when South Africa became a republic on 31 May 1961. However, there was pressure to change the flag, particularly from Afrikaners who resented the fact that the Union Flag was a part of the flag. The then prime minister, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd, had a "clean" flag, comprising three vertical stripes of orange, white, and blue, with a leaping Springbok over a wreath of six Proteas in the centre, designed, but he was assassinated before he could introduce it, and the project died with him in 1966.

Homeland flags 1966–1994

  • Nine of the ten Black 'homelands' which were created inside South Africa under the apartheid system, had their own flags, i.e. Transkei (1966–94), Bophuthatswana (1973–94), Ciskei (1973–94), Gazankulu (1973–94), Venda (1973–94), Lebowa (1974–94), QwaQwa (1975–94), KwaZulu (1977–94), and KwaNdebele (1982–94).
  • All these flags became obsolete when the homelands were reincorporated into South Africa on 27 April 1994.

National flag 1994–

  • South Africa was reconstituted as a democratic state, with equal rights for men and women of all races, in 1994. The old flag's long association with the apartheid era made it unacceptable for the new era, and a new flag was therefore designed by the State Herald, Frederick Brownell. It was approved by the Transitional Executive Council on 20 March 1994, and officially authorised by state president F.W. de Klerk on 20 April 1994. The flag was officially hoisted a week later, on 27 April 1994.
  • The new flag was intended as an interim measure, but it proved so popular that when the final Constitution was prepared in 1996, it became the permanent flag.
Flag Date Description
1910–1912 A British Red Ensign with the shield of the coat of arms of the Union of South Africa.
1910–1912 A British Blue Ensign with the shield of the coat of arms of the Union of South Africa.
1912–1928 A British Red Ensign with the shield of the coat of arms of the Union of South Africa on a white roundel.
1912–1928 A British Blue Ensign with the shield of the coat of arms of the Union of South Africa on a white roundel.
1928–1994 Orange, white, and blue horizontal stripes, on the white stripe, a backwards Union Flag towards the hoist, the Orange Free State flag hanging vertically and the Flag of Transvaal, towards the fly.
1994 – present Two horizontal bands of chilli red (top) and blue with a black triangle at the hoist, over all a green horizontal (pall) (Y-shape), fimbriated white against the red and blue and gold against the black.

Military flags

South African National Defence Force

South African Department of Military Veterans 



Air Force






See also


  1. ^ This replaced the Orange Free State republican flag.
  2. ^ The flag is the colonial flag which replaced the "Vierkleur" of the South African Republic (horizonally red, white and blue with a vertical green stripe at the hoist).


  • Beckett, D. (2002) Flying with Pride.
  • Brownell, F.G. (1993) National and Provincial Symbols.
  • Burgers, A.P. (1997) Sovereign Flags of South Africa.
  • Burgers, A.P. (2008). The South African Flag Book.
  • Pama, C. (1965) Lions and Virgins.
  • Pama, C. (1984) Die Vlae van Suid-Afrika.

External links

  • Southern African Vexillological Association (SAVA)
  • Flags of the World
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