SANDF Soldier 2000 Shirt

In the last years of minority rule in South Africa, the South African Defence Force started looking into updating its uniform. Up to this point it had been using plain nutria-brown uniforms for many years, however by the late 1980s and early 1990s this was looking very dated and so a new camouflage started development. Development started in 1988 and the new uniform was unveiled at the South African Defence Force Day Parade at Kimberley in 1993. The new camouflage pattern used Kalahari brown as a base colour and blotches of dark green, grass green & pale green with dark green & pale green spots forming the camouflage.

The combat fatigues materials were 50% polyester and 50% cotton with colouring injected into the fibres trying to achieve a 95% adhesive for longer than 36 months if treated correctly. The pattern gets repeated every 101 cm in length and 150 cm width.

Ownership of uniforms in South Africa in this pattern is an offence that can carry a prison sentence, happily in the UK it is perfectly legal to own and collect these uniforms and today we are looking at an example of the Soldier 2000 shirt:

Economy was a major factor in the development of the uniform, so it is simple in design. The shirt has two patch pockets, one on each breast:

The only other feature is a pair of epaulettes, each secured with a single plastic button:

The buttons themselves are worth closer inspection as they have an interesting mottled design, made up of flecks of colour that mirror the camouflage itself:

This shirt dates back to the introduction of the pattern, back in 1994, and was made by Empire Clothing:

Despite being developed by the SADF, it would see service with the force’s successor, the South African National Defence Force, and remains the SANDF’s camouflage of choice to this day. The SANDF was keen to distance itself from its predecessor and so the very visible change from brown to camouflage helped mark that out, despite all the development work having been done by the SADF!

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