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Johannesburg (South Africa)

Gauteng Province

Last modified: 2004-04-17 by
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[Johannesburg flag] by Antonio Martins, Jun 22, 2000, after image sent by Bruce Berry, 4 May 2000

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Johannesburg flag

Johannesburg has had two municipal flags. The original flag design for Johannesburg consisted of the shield from the city arms with the gold stamps and bar but this design was not acceptable to the Heraldry Council.  The shield of the Johannesburg arms was originally granted under Letters Patent from the College of Arms (London) in October 1907 and the full achievement  in June 1939. The arms were registered with the South African Bureau of Heraldry in November 1966 and are described as: 
ARMS: Vert, a fess between three battery stamps Or CREST: A lion passant quadrant, resting the dexter paw on a battery stamp Or.
SUPPORTERS: Two sable antelopes proper each gorged with a mural crown and charged on the shoulder for distinction with a pierced mullet Or.
MOTTO: FORTITER ET RECTE (Boldly and Rightly).

The rejection of the original flag design was on the grounds that the lower part of the arms, i.e. the gold scroll and motto, were placed on the gold stripe of the flag while the upper part, i.e. the preponderantly green shield would have been upon the green stripe. Under these circumstances there would have been little colour contrast and such a flag "fails in its purpose". On the recommendation of the Heraldry Council a heraldic banner of the municipal arms was adopted as the flag for the city and later registered with the Bureau of Heraldry in January 1969.

On 27 October 1970 the Mayor of Johannesburg unveiled this new flag for the city.  The flag comprised a green field through the centre of which was a horizontal gold stripe, above which were two gold stamps and one gold stamp below, taken from the shield of the arms (as shown in SAVA Journal 1/92).

With the reorganisation of local government in South Africa following the implementation of the Local Government Transition Act of 1993 and the amalgamation of previously racially segregated local government areas, the Johannesburg City Council was dissolved in December 1994 and the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council established.  The new local authority adopted new symbols to replace those used by the former Johannesburg City Council.

The new arms of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Council were registered with the Bureau of Heraldry on 16 May 1997 and are described as: 
ARMS: Vert, a fret couped Or, the mascle voided Gules, between in chief and base respectively four shield thongs Argent; behind the shield a spine erect Or, plumed Sable. 
SUPPORTERS: Two young lions Or, armed and langued Gules, each gorged of a beaded collar dancetty throughout Gules and Azure, the triangles fimbriated Or. 
SPECIAL COMPARTMENT: A ground, the flanks Azure and the centre Sable, separated from one another by means of narrow piles inverted, Argent.

The new municipal flag of Greater Johannesburg comprises five vertical stripes of blue, white, green, white and red.  The new Metropolitan Arms are displayed in the centre of the flag on the green panel in the centre of a stylised yellow triangle on a white disc on a black background.  It is interesting to note the prominent use of the new South African national colours in the flag that was taken into use during June 1997 (shown in SAVA Newsletter 19/97).
Bruce Berry, 10 Apr 2000