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6 South African Infantry Battalion

6 South African Infantry Battalion is an air assault infantry unit of the South African Army.

6 South African Infantry Battalion
SADF 6 SAI emblem.jpg
6 SAI emblem
Active1 January 1962
Country South Africa
TypeAir assault infantry
Part ofSouth African Army Infantry Formation
Garrison/HQGrahamstown, Eastern Cape
Motto(s)Aliis Melius
South African Border War
Part of South African Army
Part of United Nations Force Intervention Brigade
Commanders Lt Col Altin John Gysman
  • Kibati
  • Triple Towers
  • Niyabiyondo
Lt Col Altin John Gysman
Company level insigniaSA Army Company Insignia.png
SA Motorised Infantry beret bar circa 1992
SA Motorised Infantry beret bar



6 SAI was established on January 1, 1962, at Grahamstown, Eastern Cape.[1] The new training unit was housed on the property previously used by 44 Air School established by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

Bush War/ NamibiaEdit

The battalion became operational in 1970.[1] 6 SAI took part in Operation Protea and Operation Daisy in Angola.[1]

SADF 6 SAI Commemorative letter

1984 Grahamstown riotsEdit

The Unit was involved in quelling the 1984 Grahamstown riots – the first real urban riots in South Africa. The army had been called in to assist the South African Police who had failed to contain the situation.

Air Assault InfantryEdit

The battalion has since become an air assault infantry unit specifically trained to deploy via helicopters.[1]

The battalion was deployed in April 2013 to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Battle for KibatiEdit

In 2013, 850 members of 6 SAI were part of the United Nations (UN) Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) authorised to use lethal force to achieve peace in the DRC. 6 SAIs involvement in the FIB saw the defeat of the M23 rebel group during the Battle of Kibati and other skirmishes. The first elements moved into the DRC on 28 April 2013 and the rest following from 15 June, with all 850 South African troops ready for action by 18 June.[8][9]

Special Forces elements such as snipers were also attached to 6 SAI. When the FIB came under mortar fire, 6 SAI established an observation post at the triple towers site and engaged enemy targets up to 1400 meters. [10]

Freedom of GrahamstownEdit

On the 28 August 2014, after their return from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the battalion was honoured with a Freedom of the City parade through Grahamstown.[11]


6 SA Infantry Battalion Leadership
From Commanding Officers To
1962 Cmdt S.J. Terblanche 1963
1963 Cmdt M.N. Horney c. 1963
1963 Cmdt H.N. Norton c. 1966
1966 Cmdt F.A. Patten c. 1967
1967 Cmdt C.J. Lloyd c. 1968
1968 Cmdt H.F.P. Riekert c. 1972
1972 Cmdt E.J.J. Nel c. 1976
1976 Cmdt G.C.MG. Fourie c. 1979
1979 Cmdt M.J. Grobler c. 1981
1981 Cmdt F. Oelschig c. 1984
2003 Col V.D. Maseko c. 2003
2004 Lt Col M.A. M.A. Saki c. 2004
2013 Lt Col Altin J. Gysman 2017
2017 Lt Col Yandisa Gaxenia Present
From Regimental Sergeants Major To
n.d. MWO "Cassie" Coetzee Present


Previous Dress InsigniaEdit

SADF era 6 SAI insignia

Current Dress InsigniaEdit

SANDF era Infantry Formation insignia


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d Engelbrecht, Leon (2 March 2010). "Fact file: 6 SA Infantry Battalion". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. ^ "5 South African Infantry Battalion Deploys to DRC". African Defence. African Defence. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  3. ^ Olivier, Darren (29 August 2013). "The FIB Goes To War". African Defence Review. African Defence Review. Retrieved 25 September 2014. At 07h50 yesterday morning, the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) fired the opening shots of the first ever direct attack on rebel forces in UN peacekeeping history.
  4. ^ Stupart, Richard. "The Last Days of M23". Retrieved 25 September 2014. It was an assault that few DRC cynics thought possible. Last week, with the assistance of the United Nations’s newly established Force Intervention Brigade, troops from the FARDC drove the M23 rebel faction to the Ugandan border and forced what has been effectively their total and unconditional surrender.
  5. ^ Olivier, Darren (30 October 2013). "How M23 was rolled back". African Defence Review. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  6. ^ Olivier, Darren (1 May 2014). "Casualties in APCLS attack on MONUSCO/FARDC positions". African Defence Review. Retrieved 24 September 2014. The SANDF soldiers … stood their ground and defended their position with great courage and determination.
  7. ^ Hofstatter, Stephan; Oatway, James (22 August 2014). "South Africa at war in the DRC - The inside story". Times Live. Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "6SAI honoured in Grahamstown parade". Daily Dispatch. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.