Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

From the SADF to the SANDF:
Safegaurding South Africa for a better life for all?

by
Noel Stott

Violence and Transition Series, Vol. 7, 2002.

Noel Stott is a former Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Contents:

Acknowledgements

Thank you to all the participants who shared their time, stories and information.

Deep felt thanks go to all who participated in this research project, including those interviewed and those who offered advice and encouragement. Thank you to Wardie Leppan, Project Officer, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), for his ongoing support of, and insight into, the Violence and Transition Project. Special mention of Piers Pigou must be made not only for his editorial input but more importantly for his enduring tolerance. I am also indebted to Bronwyn Harris for her support, editorial and otherwise.

Introduction

South Africa's military became synonymous with repression during the height of the anti-apartheid struggle. It was powerfully influential within the state's security structures, and these in turn carried much authority within political decision-making circles at the time. Eight years after South Africa's democratic transition, however, the South African military is held to be one of the most, if not the most, successful state sector to deal with transformation.

This paper focuses on violence in relation to the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the 1980s and early 1990s, and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the post-1994 dispensation. During this latter period, the military has undergone significant change in the context of South Africa's broader transition from authoritarian to democratic rule.

While the key military protagonists of South Africa's apartheid conflict are no longer at war, the legacy of the recent past will not be overcome simply by the laying aside of arms. Neither the old SADF, nor the liberation armies, were created or structured to serve in a democracy and none had an unblemished history of respecting human rights (Nathan, 1994a). For these reasons, it is of the utmost importance that potential problems and pitfalls in the drive to consolidate democratic gains, and fundamentally transform the armed services, are adequately addressed.

This paper explores the role of the apartheid state's military force in South(ern) African society and the consequent rise in militarism in the 1980s. It also raises the question of whether, and if so how, this past function contributes to the high levels of conflict and violence that, to a large extent, continue to plague post-apartheid South Africa.1 This requires an examination of past manifestations of violence perpetrated by the SADF, and "new" forms of violence within the SANDF, including assaults; gender, domestic and racial incidents; suicides; and violent property crimes, such as thefts and armed robberies. This, in turn, requires an examination of how processes of transition, integration, rationalisation and demobilisation have impacted on, or resulted in, new or different forms of violence.

Internationally-recognised independent monitoring groups such as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) continue to report on alleged abuses committed by the South African military. For example, AI asserted in their 2001 survey that "there were reports of torture, ill-treatment and unjustified use of lethal force by the security forces, including military units based in KwaZulu-Natal province, primarily in the context of crime investigation and the search for illegal weapons" (Amnesty International, 2001, p. 220).

Potential sources of conflict that threaten South Africa's democratic transition are manifold, and many are related to the legacies of apartheid, especially in terms of socio-economic factors and massive structural inequalities. However, that threats to security and stability have also emanated from within the armed formations of both statutory and non-statutory forces underscores the importance of securing institutional control across the board. Both the process of integrating the various armed formations into a single defence force, and the resultant end product had the potential to cause conflict. Not only were sworn enemies expected to work together, but also affirmative action, down-sizing and demobilisation had the potential to stimulate resentment and further conflict.

While a number of specific violent incidents have indeed taken place and integration and demobilisation have caused considerable tensions and conflicts, this paper strongly suggests that systematic violations no longer occur within the military and that the South African military is no longer considered to be a perpetrator of gross human rights abuses against South Africans more generally. The violent culture that permeated the SADF is apparently not endemic in the SANDF.2

Methodology

In addition to an extensive review of the available literature, the author conducted in-depth discussions and interviews with a number of leading military and sociological analysts and with former members of the SADF and the so-called non-statutory forces, MK, APLA, as well as with serving members of the SANDF.

Limitations

Understanding the past and present requires access to information. Many former and present members of the SADF/SANDF and non-statutory forces were reluctant to be formally interviewed and quoted. Much of this paper is, therefore, based on private, off-the-record discussions and secondary source material. Official documents were difficult to obtain, mainly because of the systematic destruction of material that took place prior to, and during, the transition period - a process described in some detail below. Potentially crucial material that is known to have been destroyed includes records of the National Security Management System (NSMS), and of bodies associated with the South African Defence Force (SADF) such as the South West African Territory Force (SWATF) and other special directorates and units such as the Directorate of Special Tasks (DST) and the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB).3 Nevertheless, the problem of access to information for empirical research is not a new phenomenon being an obstacle encountered throughout the 1980s and before, especially when attempting to analyse security-related events (Sarakinsky, 1989, p. 71).

In stark contrast to the secrecy of the past, the advent of democracy in South Africa has introduced an unprecedented level of openness about defence matters. Nonetheless, there is still considerable uncertainty within the SANDF itself as to what information should be readily available to the public. "The question of public access to defence information in a democracy in a time of peace is inevitably characterised by a tension between the imperatives of transparency and accountability on the one hand, and the legitimate need to preserve the confidentiality and secrecy of certain information on the other" (De Jager, 1999). Paradoxically then, the national interest in defending democracy becomes the justification for limiting individuals' and society's rights to information. In this way, the process of transition itself has contributed to a lack of clarity regarding the violence of the past.

Another important factor inhibiting access to information was that prior to 1999, record keeping was decentralised within each arm of the military. While this has now changed and a process is underway to centralise information, cumulative statistical data covering the years before, during, and shortly after the transition are not readily available.

Our insight into how the military operated was further constrained by the limited availability of detail on the previous state's security structures and the evolution of their relationship to the police and broader political structures.

Despite ongoing official secrecy about the SADF's involvement in past violence, a vast amount of information has emerged. Rather than a comprehensive analysis of such violence, this report offers an overview of violence surrounding the SADF and the SANDF (primarily through the lens of the TRC). When read in conjunction with other VTP reports (especially those dealing with ex-combatants and the police), this "big picture" overview complements the analytical framework of the CSVR's VTP project and offers a starting point for future analytical research.4

A Brief Overview of the South African Military5

The SADF's predecessor, the Union Defence Force was created in 1912 following the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Prior to the 1960s, expenditure on defence was not a priority for the statem,6 by the mid-60s, the arms budget had increased significantly in response to a United Nations (UN) arms embargo, and an Armaments Development Corporation (ARMSCOR) was established. By the mid-1970s, South Africa "had a powerful and significant arms industry", and by 1979 over 14% of state expenditure was allocated to defence. In 1982-83 expenditure had risen to almost R3 billion, and by the mid-1980s almost 20% of the government's total annual budget was devoted to defence (Saunders, 1983, p. 111; Frankel, 2000, pp. 149-50). Despite a prolonged period of militarisation in other countries in the Southern African region, the SADF's military machine was still regarded as more powerful than the combined forces of all its neighbouring states (Heitman, 1985, p. 8).

By the early 1990s, the SADF consisted of 75 479 full-time members, 21 695 civilians and a part-time component of 526 702 citizen-force personnel, as well as 76 476 commandos (primarily the white reserve force) organised into 200 units.7 In addition, the four "independent" homelands of Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana and Ciskei (the TVBC states) also had small defence forces, nominally independent, yet effectively under SADF control.

Historically, the South African military has a range of combat experience and has participated in a number of conventional wars, including the First and Second World Wars. South Africa was one of 14 countries to offer military assistance in the Korean War and, "as a gesture of solidarity against communism" in 1950, sent its 2nd Air Force Squadron to Korea, where it served until 1953.8 From 1966 to 1974, South Africa also provided "policing services" and military support to neighbouring white colonial governments in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mozambique and Angola and, as will be noted later, engaged in a number of "low intensity" military deployments, incursions and cross-border raids against these and other "Front Line States" on a regular basis from 1975 to 1989. With respect to Rhodesia, the South African House of Assembly passed a defence amendment bill in March 1973 making it possible for South Africans to be seconded to the Rhodesian forces without loss of seniority or pay.9 Moreover, South Africa was also covertly involved in a number of attempted coups, either directly or by supporting so-called "liberation" armies or dissident military personnel and supplying weaponry. These include the 1981 Seychelles coup attempt, and other initiatives in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the Transkei and Ciskei as well as the 1986 economic blockade of Lesotho which facilitated a Major General Lekhanya deposing Chief Leabua Jonathan's government and who immediately deported approximately 100 ANC members (Stiff, 2001).

The defence force also has experience of operational deployment inside the country. As early as 1914 and 1922, troops were used to suppress strikes by white mine workers. During the 1980s, the South African military also took on increasing responsibility for internal security matters, providing the South African Police (SAP) with considerable support in their attempt to crush anti-apartheid resistance.

On the eve of the 1994 first democratic general election, the SANDF replaced the SADF, as a result of the decision to integrate non-statutory forces of MK and APLA with SADF and TBVC forces. Since then, and while undergoing complex processes of transformation, restructuring and downsizing, the military has been involved in a range of security issues. In both the 1994 and 1999 elections, for example, the SANDF assisted the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the registration and voting processes. It was also deployed in high-risk areas around the country to reduce tensions between members of the various political parties and to provide the necessary security on voting days.

Currently, the SANDF plays a major role in border patrols, with 23 companies engaged at any one time along South Africa's extensive frontiers. The military also performs a central role in assisting the "new" South African Police Service (SAPS) in crime-combating operations (both internal and cross-border), and is also deeply involved in the rural protection plan (utilising part-time forces, Commandos and Rear Area Protection Units) for farming communities that have increasingly come under criminal attack since the early 1990s. As early as 1996, the SANDF was involved in over 20 000 operations across the country. In 1997, 54 army companies (between 6000 to 8000 troops) were maintained on a routine basis in providing support to the police. These operations reflect the contemporary nature of crime and violence and the prioritisation of particular crime-fighting objectives. According to the Department of Defence, these actions have resulted in the recovery of large numbers of narcotics, vehicles and livestock, confiscation of weapons and apprehension of undocumented migrants.10

The effectiveness of these operations in the ongoing war against what are, in some respects, the results of past SADF operations to destabilise the region: arms smuggling, drug and wild-life (flora and fauna) trafficking and the like is, however, a matter of interpretation. The continuing high crime rate has resulted in calls for military involvement to be expanded, but military leaders have thus far resisted this move (Frankel, 2000, pp. 159-160). "The SANDF is not an institution for fighting crime … but, we do deploy members of the SANDF in the battle against crime because the Constitution, and Parliament have declared that it is our secondary duty to assist and stabilise our society. Generally speaking we must not see combating crime as the primary duty of the SANDF."11

Externally, the new South African military has been, or is presently, involved in a number of operations. The SANDF is cautiously engaged in peace-keeping missions in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The former deployment, which is officially called the South African Protection Support Detachment, is South Africa's "biggest and most expensive and riskiest military mission since 1994".12 There have already been problems. One SANDF member has been found murdered in circumstances that remain a mystery and one black soldier has been shot dead after shooting and wounding a white officer - the particulars of which have also not yet been released.

In September 1998, under the auspices of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), launched Operation Boleas to quell an army rebellion in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Because nine South African soldiers, over 50 Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldiers and 40 civilians were killed, the operation was widely presented as a debacle and a failure. The large number of deaths in what should have been a relatively small operation was also interpreted as evidence of the SANDF's lack of fighting capacity. For some, the perceived lack of fighting capacity was attributed to the absorption of former fighters from the liberation movement, "which has created confusion and division" (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2000). "The Lesotho debacle (also) appears to fulfil some of the worst predictions of brutality, ill-discipline and poor leadership" (Frankel, 2000, p. 200).

The South African government and the military itself have conceded that tactical shortcomings and poor intelligence resulted in a force too weak to handle the level of resistance encountered.13

Despite these real or perceived shortcomings, there is substantial progress on many of the internal policy goals of the SANDF. Its civilian control mechanism is well established. Its emergency relief operations have been widely acclaimed - especially those pertaining to the floods in Mozambique in 1999-2000. Its overall staff reduction target has been realised (the SANDF now has a full-time component of 78 823 members with further downsizing in the pipeline). Its affirmative action policies are well on the way to being fully implemented (Blacks making up 60.6%; Asians 1.2%; Coloureds 12.1% and Whites 26.1% as of 1 April 2001).14 Despite a number of problems, some of which are explored in more detail below, "transformation is clearly in motion, but one suspects it is far from concluded" (Frankel, 2000, p. 216).

"Total Strategy" and the South African Military

In the context of cold war politics and ongoing decolonisation, apartheid South Africa was faced with an increasingly precarious situation in the early 1970s. As the then Minister of Defence saw it:

Like the rest of the Free World, the RSA is a target for international communism and its cohorts - leftist activists, exaggerated humanism, permissiveness, materialism, and related ideologies. In addition, the RSA has been singled out as a special target for the by-product of their ideologies, such as black radicalism, exaggerated individual freedom, one-man-one vote, and a host of other slogans employed against us on the basis of double standards. (Defence Minister P.W. Botha, 1973)15

In the mid-70s, the international and continental political landscape was substantially altered by the 1974 "Revolution of the Carnations" in Portugal and the subsequent independence of Angola and Mozambique. When Zimbabwe gained its independence in 1980, South Africa had effectively lost what it considered a protective buffer of white-controlled states. In its place were what it saw as hostile, black-ruled regimes. All were avowedly Marxist and publicly opposed to white minority rule.

After the détente of the Nixon presidency and the end of the Vietnam War, the international politics of the Cold War became increasingly polarised. Liberation movements in Africa and elsewhere increasingly looked to the Communist East bloc for support while the South African government defended its own political evolution within the context of fending off the international communist threat.

The threat to the RSA within the ambit of the communist international battle for world domination is also related to the increase and establishment of communist influence and presence in South Africa" (South Africa. White Paper on Defence and Armaments Production, 1975).

This "communist battle" was depicted as a "Total Onslaught", to which the South African government responded by adopting a "Total Strategy", ostensibly to fight off the godless communists, but primarily designed to replace the lost cordon sanitaire of formerly white minority ruled allies by whatever means necessary. At the same time, the state embarked on a process of internal "reform" designed to give the appearance of movement towards a more inclusive and representative political system whilst effectively retaining the status quo of minority political and economic control.

Under the leadership of P.W. Botha (Minister of Defence from 1966 to 1980; Prime Minister from 1979 to 1984,16 and State President from 1984 to 1989), South Africa's military establishment achieved unprecedented political influence.17 As Minister of Defence, Botha had championed the "Total Strategy" policy, which had been first mooted in the 1977 Defence White Paper and was later adopted as official government policy. Throughout Botha's subsequent premiership and presidency, the government developed and maintained this anti-communist stance, aligning itself with the West, buying both support and time to try to control the situation at home.

The Total Strategy addressed both the domestic, and the regional security situation. In 1979, South Africa's security agencies convened in the Western Cape to decide who would take responsibility for the security of specific geographic areas. "Specific tasks were allocated, areas of responsibility defined and a broad outline given of the tactics to be employed" at a conference of security chiefs in what has become known as the Simonstad Raad or Simonstown Council.18 A task force identified targets involved in the armed struggle (Seegers, 1996, p. 163). Despite being termed a "defence" force, the SADF was to become the primary vehicle for the destabilisation of most neighbouring countries. The security situation inside the country during the 1980s, however, continued to deteriorate, and although the SAP remained the main agency for internal security (and repression), the SADF's role inside the country steadily increased. Both the SAP and the SADF would "be in the forefront of the counter-revolutionary efforts, with the National Intelligence Service and Department of Foreign Affairs providing backup" (Seegers, 1996, p. 163).

Political support from powerful western nations, including the United States, Britain, France and West Germany, effectively allowed South Africa to develop and use its formidable military machine to defend the apartheid regime from any internal or external threat to national security. Consequently, the state was able to develop both a nuclear defence programme, (developing six nuclear bombs, all of which were officially dismantled in the early 1990s) and "one of the most aggressive chemical and biological warfare programmes to have been implemented anywhere in the world since the Second World War" (Ellis, 2000, p. 62).19

The State Security Council (SSC) and the National Security Management System (NSMS)

The Total Strategy also involved the development of an intricate politico-security infrastructure that was to stretch from the highest echelons of government down to remote rural communities. At its apex was the State Security Council (SSC), which many observers claim became the de facto Cabinet. This process has been described as a "bloodless coup", and indicates just how much coercion and state-enforced control was needed to preserve white control over both politics and economics in South Africa. (Ellis, 2000, p.62).

However, while it is true that security issues came to pervade virtually all major aspects of governance under Botha's leadership and that the SSC took on a central policy-making role - sometimes surpassing the Cabinet as the most important decision-making body in the country - "political society and the dual state remained largely intact". What did emerge was a highly centralised bureaucratic-cum-military structure with the power and ability to coordinate the implementation of both security and political policies, and which took direct responsibility for the formulation of strategies "with the common objective of winning the war" (Swilling & Phillips, 1989, p.143).

This bureaucracy was known as the National Security Management System (NSMS) with a network of Joint Management Centres (JMCs) as its operational arm. The SSC's Secretariat was dominated by members of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), with SADF and Defence representation making up 10 per cent of the total staff (Seegers A, 1996: 166). The Chief of the Defence Staff acted as the nodal point of the SADF for co-ordination and liaison with the Secretariat of the State Security Council.20 Below the national command centre was a hierarchy of JMCs that generally corresponded to the SADF's regional command areas but were later to correspond to economic regions. Military or police Brigadiers, each directing about fifty officials, chaired the JMCs. These JMCs consisted of members of the security forces from both the SAP and SADF (16% of its membership consisted of SADF personnel), local government officials, community councillors and other organisations such as churches and civil defence units. JMC officials also directed the activities of sub-JMCs, or sub-centres composed of officials from municipalities, police, and the military in the area. At the bottom of this security apparatus pyramid was a host of mini-JMCs, directed by municipal officials, fire chiefs, local defence officials, and other community leaders. The SADF therefore participated in the in the overall strategic and operational management of the state.21

The state made extensive use of Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC) theory and developed a dual strategy of repression and reform, assisting and utilising surrogate opposition forces in neighbouring states such as the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (RENAMO) in Mozambique and Uniao Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA) in Angola for destabilisation and repression, to complement the direct involvement of its own forces, including those of SWATF. Inside South Africa the security forces provided direct and indirect support for vigilante groups22 and others, including Inkatha (subsequently renamed the Inkatha Freedom Party), that opposed the swelling ranks of the United Democratic Front (UDF), widely perceived as a proxy of the ANC. The ensuing violence enabled the government to feed the myth that the violence was simply "black on black" (Hanlon, 1986).

LIC also involved at least the appearance of reform. Even P.W. Botha realised that "you can't control violence only with violence and force - you also need socio-economic and other measures to stop the onslaught against South Africa".23 Consequently the state attempted to "win the hearts and minds" of black South Africans by increasing economic aid to local authorities and by trying to improve the image of the SADF in the townships.

As envisaged by the 1977 Defence White Paper, by the early 1980s control and concession and divide and rule had become the state's modus operandi.

The resolution of the conflict in the times we live in demands interdependent and co-ordinated action in all fields - military, psychological, economic, political, sociological, technological, diplomatic, ideological, cultural etc … (South Africa. Defence White Paper, 1997)

The NSMS, therefore, provided the infrastructure for this new strategy, encompassing "hard war" methods aimed at "eliminating revolutionaries" and "maintaining law and order", and a "soft war programme" designed to win black support through social and economic upliftment schemes (Swilling and Phillips, 1989, p. 145).

The NSMS or, as it became known later, the "National Co-ordinating Mechanism" and the Inter-departmental Committee on Security, provided the SSC with the necessary information to ensure a constant national security profile and to take decisions at both national, and local levels.24 These decisions could then be implemented either by formal law enforcement agencies or by other structures acting covertly (Coleman, 1998b, p. 106). "Total Strategy" thus laid the basis for the SADF's increasing influence on the formulation of state policy, while the security-focused SSC ensured the military's place at this focal point of all national decision-making and government power (Frankel, 1984).

The SSC thus functioned as the NSMS's national command centre, evaluating current intelligence, formulating policy, and directing a nation-wide organisational network dedicated to implementing the Total Strategy in terms of security measures, and at the same time "winning the hearts and minds" of the masses by token township upgrading (Coleman, 1998b, p. 21).

In response to these and other political developments and government "reform" initiatives, the United Democratic Front (UDF) was formed in 1983, as a coalition eventually comprising over 600 domestic anti-apartheid organisations. The UDF was soon regarded by the state as part of the revolutionary problem. By 1984, SADF training courses described the Front as one of

five revolutionary groups which are conducting a political or military war against the RSA … and which … is largely responsible for the total onslaught against the RSA.25

It was thus not surprising when in February 1988, the state announced the restriction of 17 extra-parliamentary organisations, including the UDF and the judge in the "Delmas Treason Trial" ruled that it was a revolutionary organisation conceived by the ANC (Sarakinsky, 1989, p. 75). These restrictions and comments were integral to the WHAM approach, which sought to legitimise "existing institutions and institutions which will be established in the context of forthcoming reforms" (Sarakinsky, 1989, p. 80).

The SADF's Regional Destabilisation Strategy

During this period, one of the chief tasks of the SADF, and in particular of its Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), was to implement a destabilisation strategy in the Southern African region. Military (and economic) destabilisation of the neighbouring states included invasions and "hot pursuit" operations into Angola, pre-emptive strikes against the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) in Namibia and Angola, actions against the African National Congress (ANC) in exile in countries such as Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho, and military support for rebel anti-Marxist groups such as RENAMO and UNITA.

From 1975, the SADF invaded southern Angola regularly - Operation Smokeshell (1980), Operation Protea (1981) and Operation Askari (1986) being prime examples of this. In response to ANC refugees in Lesotho, the SADF attacked "targets" in the capital, Maseru, in 1982 and 1985, killing 36 ANC members and 15 Lesotho citizens.26 In addition, the SADF's Directorate of Special Tasks (DST) also clandestinely supported the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) under Operation Latse. These actions eventually culminated in the Lesotho government's formal denial of refuge to ANC members and supporters. In Mozambique, South Africa's support for RENAMO and its direct military actions against ANC bases in Maputo, led the ruling party, the Frente de Liberta‡ao de Mo‡ambique (FRELIMO) to curb the ANC's presence in its territory officially, as part of the infamous 1984 Inkomati Accord. The Kingdom of Swaziland was also not immune. Considerable tension had developed with Pretoria over the presence of ANC and PAC activists seeking refuge there and using it as a rear base from which to launch guerrilla attacks on the Republic. A secret non-aggression pact signed in 1982 resulted in an unknown degree of co-operation between Swazi and South African security forces.

Between 1960 and 1990, the South African government's involvement in the region expanded from occasional cross-border interventions in the 1960s to a situation in the 1980s where the SADF was involved in various levels of warfare in six Southern African states, while covert units conducted attacks particularly in the BLS states of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (TRC, 1998, Volume 2, Chapter 2, Paragraph 4).

While it is impossible to pinpoint exactly "how many deaths in those countries were the result of South Africa's interference … what can be said is that hundreds of thousands of people died throughout Southern Africa in conflicts manipulated by South Africa for reasons of its own, and to some extent those people could be considered victims of the struggle for South Africa itself" (Ellis, 2000, p. 65). These wars then had catastrophic human and economic consequences - thousands of deaths, damage to billions of Rands' worth of property and infrastructure, and almost unquantifiable costs in lost economic growth, tourism and trade agreements (Hanlon, 1986, p. 265). Unfortunately, the TRC only briefly examined these operations and in some senses, "diverted attention from some of the greatest abuses of human rights inflicted by the South African state" (Ellis, 2000, p. 65).

De Klerk's eventual announcement in November 1989 that the NSMS was to be abolished and replaced by a co-ordinating system under civilian control, known as the National Co-ordinating Mechanism, was a deliberate move to remove security force influence and consolidate decision-making powers, returning them to the Cabinet. De Klerk, thereby re-established Cabinet as the "highest policy making co-ordinating authority".27 Few, if any, analysts of the South African transition would however describe this process as a "military transition", that is, the transfer of state power from a military government to a constitutional government headed by a civilian with a popular mandate.

The Militarisation of South African Society

Complementing South Africa's destabilisation programme and internal security strategy was a broader militarisation of South African society, in which the SADF played a central role. The expansion of military power and influence as a social institution is evident at a number of levels, including the political, economic and ideological (Tomaselli, 1984, p. 215).

At an economic level, militarisation was epitomised by the strong links between the SADF and the private sector, particularly with the phenomenal growth of the arms industry. The TRC found "business was central to the economy that sustained the South African state during the apartheid years … businesses benefited from co-operating with the security structures …" (TRC, 1998, Volume 4, Chapter 2, Paragraph 161). By 1984, over 2000 private sector firms were involved in the arms industry, and employed over 120,000 people. Moving from a position of almost complete dependency on arms imports during the 1950s and early 1960s, "by the end of the 1980s, the arms industry had reached a relatively high level of self-sufficiency and could meet most of the equipment requirements of the SADF" (Batchelor, 1998, p.100).

At the political level, the SADF influenced foreign relations, particularly in neighbouring states, and was increasingly involved in domestic security arrangements, in terms of "traditional" law and order responsibilities, and also in other arenas as diverse as education, labour and health.28 In 1985 alone, for example, some 35 500 troops were used in the townships to evict rent defaulters, occupy classrooms, identify the injured seeking treatment in health clinics, and break strikes. Murder by "death squads" and the disappearance of prominent anti-apartheid activists were also common during this time.

The degree to which the SADF and the SAP were linked in this period, in suppressing black resistance, was an important indicator both of the level of violent conflict and the role of the SADF within that conflict" (Cock, 1990, p. 88).

Direct evidence of the military's involvement in covert actions, such as assassinations, is available but limited. This appears to reflect limitations with regard to disclosures before the TRC, rather than a limited number of incidents that military elements were actually involved in (Pigou, 2001).

Militarisation at the ideological level manifested itself across a range of areas; school cadet systems, youth preparedness programmes, the promotion of war toys and games, the compulsory registration of 16-year-old white boys for conscription and the progressive extension of compulsory military service for white male youths to two years plus annual camps.29

A militarised and, therefore, violent response to prevailing conditions, came to be seen as the acceptable solution to apartheid South Africa's problems. Violence was either sanctioned by law or at least, unrestrained by the law (Cock, 1990, p. 103). Furthermore, the NSMS ensured that state employees believed in national security concerns and did as ordered (Seegers, 2000). Government policies were also supported by the bulk of the white electorate who continued to return the National Party (NP) to power with large majorities. Elections in 1977, one year after the Soweto uprising, gave the National Party its strongest-ever mandate: 67% of the white vote. Moreover, during the 1980s, surveys conducted by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) and the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) show that the vast majority of white South Africans favoured the exclusion of black South Africans from the political system, white schools, residential areas and public amenities, and approved of the policy of cross-border raids (Theissen & Hamber, 1998, pp. 8 - 12).

These endorsements of the government, legitimised an increasing military involvement in all aspects of political, social and economic decision-making. McCuen's counter-insurgency theory,30 and in particular his "winning hearts and minds" (WHAM) strategy was embraced by the South African state (Cock, 1990). The situation was complex, as it became increasingly necessary for the state to create the impression that it was "reasonable", wanting to upgrade and reconstruct townships, whilst at the same time retaining control over the security situation. State violence became more covert and selective; with the aim of intimidating without antagonising and with the (somewhat forlorn) hope that large-scale upliftment programmes in the townships would alter political attitudes and erode support for radical elements. This subsequently evolved into a cruder programme of divide and rule in the mid-1980s, as vigilantes and municipal constables became the primary agents of violence and repression. Concerted efforts were also made to forge relations with more "traditional" and conservative elements within the black community.

As white South Africa became increasingly militarised, so too did South Africa's black communities, either in collaboration with the state and its security forces, or in direct opposition to it. But the militarisation of members of South Africa's white community effectively breathed life into the apartheid leviathan, as they seemed impervious to, and largely insulated from, the security force abuses committed in their name.

In May 1996, shortly after the first public hearings of the TRC, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) conducted a random nation-wide telephone survey amongst 124 white South Africans, to gauge whether white South Africans would sooner deny their complicity in the apartheid past than take any responsibility for what had happened (Theissen & Hamber, 1997). At the time CSVR concluded that not only did white South Africans turn a blind eye to ongoing human rights violations, but also, that many of them supported the way in which the security forces dealt with black opposition. The survey found that less than a quarter (23%) of respondents claimed to have heard about the atrocities only through the TRC. Over half (55%) said that they knew there were abuses, but were unaware of the extent. A further 22% said they had been more or less fully aware of the scale of the atrocities (Theissen & Hamber, 1997).

A consequence of this pervasive militarisation continues today: South African society has become "a battlefield littered with the bodies of damaged people" (Cock, 1988, p. 23). Almost twenty years of border wars and township violence has left South Africa with hundreds of thousands of war casualties of a psychological and physical nature. Indeed "what the TRC uncovered [was] not a few bad apples … but a system, a culture, a way of life that was organised around contempt and violence for other human beings" (Ignatieff, 2001, p. 21).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Military

One of the problems that confronted the negotiating parties during South Africa's transition to democracy was how to deal with gross human rights violations under apartheid (Nattrass, 1999, p. 373). In order to resolve this, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in terms of The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act (No. 34 of 1995) which was, according to the then Minister of Justice, "a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation";31 in other words, "to balance peace and justice, forgetting and forgiveness, healing and punishment, truth and reconciliation" (Ignatieff, 2001, p. 15).

However, the TRC had to make difficult choices and operate within a number of constraints. Firstly, it attempted to establish a middle path between the Latin American experience of not prosecuting perpetrators of gross human rights violations because of their ability to destabilise an emerging democracy, and the German (post-World War II) case, where the existence of an outright victor made punishment possible. Secondly, the TRC arose out of a negotiated settlement between the ANC and the National Party; without one side being able to dominate the other. This demanded compromise and sufficient consensus. Thirdly, and importantly, the nature of South Africa's transition meant that many of the individuals who (allegedly) committed acts of human rights abuse in the past conflict would remain in, or become part of, the state (Newham, 1995, p. 10).

Although the principle of amnesty had been agreed upon before South Africa's transition to democratic governance, the National Party government and the security forces continued to argue for a blanket amnesty. Amidst an array of other priorities, the issue was not finalised before the elections in 1994, which subsequently gave room for the development of a unique conditional amnesty process. This examined individual violations and required, amongst other things, the establishment of a political motivation and provision of full disclosure. It was "not a general, blanket amnesty for say, all generals and all top politicians, as had been the case in Chile and Argentina … it was to be a specific amnesty, on a case by case basis, decided by a panel of amnesty commissioners sitting in public hearings" (Ignatieff, 2001, p. 16).

In its submissions to the TRC, the National Party did not provide details of SADF operations, but instead chose to support those who had served under its successive administrations. Security force actions occurred within the context of defensive counter-revolutionary actions and, as such, were regarded as legitimate.32 Although there was an admission that some units of the SAP and SADF had acted outside of the law, this it was claimed, had not been authorised. As such, the National Party would not accept responsibility for these abuses. De Klerk and the National Party led the TRC to believe that separate submissions by the SANDF would deal with the details of the operational dimensions of the past conflict. No attempts were made to explore the consequences of, and responsibility for, the militarisation of South African society, and no admissions were made that the military had in fact achieved unprecedented influence in general policy making. The general tenet of the National Party's input was defensive and negative towards a process that it felt was biased against it.33

Unfortunately, the armed forces remained largely distant from the deliberations of the TRC, and the lack of co-operation on the part of the National Party and the obscurity of the SADF meant that many perpetrators could not be identified (Cherry, 2000, p. 15). Very few members of the security forces came forward to request amnesty, and the refusal of former president PW Botha to participate in the Commission probably suggests that many perpetrators of apartheid refused to take the Commission seriously (Campbell, 2000, p. 2).

Of the 7 115 amnesty applications received, 1 154 were granted amnesty and 150 were granted partial amnesty. In total only 267 applicants were security force members, and only a handful came from the military.34 These did, however, include the former head of the SADF's elite Special Forces, Brigadier Joep Joubert, for his involvement in the assassination of activists in joint internal operations with the SAP in 1986. They also included some members of the CCB, DMI and other units. It should, however, be noted that many of those who did apply for amnesty, did so only on hearing of their impending prosecution.

It is increasingly evident that the military, by and large, simply boycotted the process, as they saw no need to participate. With very few exceptions, members of the military did not face potential prosecution, in contrast to many former security police officers who were implicated as a result of investigations conducted by the Office of the Transvaal Attorney General (Pigou, 2001, p. 210).

It now seems as though there had never been any intention to prosecute. MK/SADF negotiations paralleled the multi-party negotiations, and during 1993 MK chief and the first post-apartheid Minister of Defence, Joe Modise, told SADF Generals that "Nuremburg-style trials and investigations of military personnel of any persuasion did not (and would not for the indefinite future) form part of the ANC perceptions of a new South Africa". By November 1993, both sides had agreed on the "absolute necessity of a general amnesty" after elections, in the interests of reconciliation (Frankel, 2000, pp. 23 - 25). This helps to explain the generally unaccommodating attitude of the military during the process.

Unlike the ANC, which provided a number of submissions - however imperfect - and (even) admitted that its security department had overstepped the boundaries with respect to events in its detention camp in Angola (camp 31 or Quatro), the TRC experienced a severe lack of co-operation when investigating allegations against the former SADF. One example of this was the SADF raid on an alleged APLA base in Transkei in October 1993, which resulted in the killing of five children. The nodel point claimed that the children were members of APLA. Later however, General Meiring was "forced to admit that he had not clearly verified intelligence on the target, or the existence of a large cache of weapons".35

The SANDF did, however, make a written submission to the TRC on behalf of the SADF during 1996.36 This submission was, however, condemned by the then Deputy Defence Minister, Ronnie Kasrils, as "arrogant and disappointing". According to the TRC's Deputy Chair, the submission was "breathtakingly one-sided and almost arrogant in that no responsibility at all was taken for any events. The defence force emerges as the knight on the white horse".37 In both the SANDF submission and in the subsequent armed forces hearings, at which the former Chief of the SADF General Viljoen took the stand, the military presented themselves as mere functionaries of National Party policy and as such, "politically neutral". No admissions of gross human rights violations were made, and exception was taken to the depiction of the military as "apartheid security forces".38

In February 1998, the SA Defence Force Contact Bureau (consisting of the panel of the four former Chiefs of the SA Defence Force, Generals Malan, Viljoen, Geldenhuys and Liebenberg, and the convenors, Maj. Gen. Marais and WO1 Holliday) conducted an assessment of the probable results of the TRC's activities. While expressing their unequivocal support for the process of reconciliation taking place in South Africa, they also expressed their concern at the management and conduct of the TRC concerning matters of a military nature in the first two years of its existence. The generals suggested amongst other things that the TRC should:

The TRC Report

The TRC's report was released to the public on 29 October 1998.39 Volume Two of the report focuses on government-inspired violence and Volume Three, on state-sponsored political violence as experienced by the victims. Volume Five includes the findings and recommendations made by the TRC.

It is clear that the TRC was particularly frustrated by the SADF.

A number of party leaders, some prominent past politicians, and representatives of … the SADF made submissions to the Commission. The usefulness of these submissions varied greatly, but were generally disappointing and did little to further the work of the Commission (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 7).

The first submission by the SADF was so insubstantial that the Commission asked for a second, more comprehensive one. For the TRC, this

reflected the enormous - perhaps unbridgeable - chasm between the perspectives of those who wielded power in the apartheid era and those who suffered at their hands (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 14).

According to the TRC, "nowhere was this more clearly illustrated than in the opening remarks of General Viljoen's submission on behalf of the SADF at the Commission's armed forces hearing":

The former SADF was politically neutral whilst your Commission is highly politicised … the governing party of the former government did not demonstrate interest in the former SADF. You really erred in your assumption, and the expectations you created in public, that the SADF was guilty of gross violation of human rights on a substantial scale (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 14).

For the TRC, the above statement epitomised the overarching sense of denial that seemed to have enveloped so many of those who were the leaders and beneficiaries of the former state. The TRC felt that it was "unfortunate that a 'whistle blower' did not emerge from the ranks of the SADF" (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 33). Nevertheless, some of the information provided by former members of Military Intelligence (MI) and the Special Forces helped the Commission to obtain some insight into the role played by the SADF in cross-border target identification and other operations, and provided a broader insight into its role in the formulation of security policy. Important, but limited, information about a handful of internal operations was also received.

The TRC's access to security force files and personnel was through nodal points established at the beginning of the Commission's life. Although the SANDF nodal point was designed to facilitate access, the TRC concluded that it acted as gatekeeper to the SADF's activities (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 41). Access to SADF archival material was also limited and given only towards the end of the time available for sustained research. Of even more concern to the Commission was the fact that the nodal point appeared to have played a similar screening function when channelling amnesty requests from its former members. In at least one case, a former member of the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB) was advised not to apply for amnesty. Disturbingly, appeals to the (post-apartheid) Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence for assistance bore little or no fruit. This led the Commission to believe that the role of the nodal point was decided at the highest (present and past) officer level (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 42). These concerns were to surface again when evidence of a vast military archive emerged in late 2001.

The agreement between the ANC and "old-guard securocrats", that all information relating to the military would flow through the nodal point was, in the words of the TRC's Head of Investigations, "perhaps the biggest mistake" of many made by the TRC.40

The TRC however did find that the National Party government had been involved in extra-judicial killings and that the SSC was responsible for a number of human rights violations, including the creation of a political climate that facilitated the perpetration of gross violations on a wide scale. It also held the SADF (together with other state forces) accountable for the destruction of state documentation, which would have provided information on the inner workings of the state's security apparatus. Within this context, the Commission found that:

The state - in the form of the South African government, the civil service and its security forces - was, in the period 1960-94 the primary perpetrator of gross violations of human rights in South Africa, and from 1974, in Southern Africa (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraphs 78 - 101).
The TRC's Findings on the "Third Force"

The early 1990s saw unprecedented levels of violence in South Africa. A "hidden hand" or "third force" was alleged to be involved in orchestrating and fomenting such violence in order to derail the negotiation process or, at least, to weaken the ANC. "This 'third force' was seen to involve covert units of the security forces acting in concert with other individuals or groupings, such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and various right-wing paramilitary structures" (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 126). This interpretation of the violence fits with the state's WHAM strategy and is illustrative of lessons learnt by the South African security forces when it mounted a successful covert campaign to prevent SWAPO from gaining a two-thirds majority in Namibia's independence election of 1989 (Ellis, 1998).

Unlike in the 1980s, the TRC had limited success in uncovering the cause of violations in this period, although "the nature and pattern of political conflict in this later period changed considerably, particularly in its apparent anonymity" (TRC, 1998, Volume 2, Chapter 7, Paragraph 1).

Nevertheless, the TRC found evidence of:

Furthermore, the Commission found some evidence regarding the involvement of security force operatives and IFP members in train violence and in right-wing agendas and structures; the existence of alliances between certain security force operatives, the right-wing and sectors of the IFP, who clearly believed they were arming and training people for a full-scale war.

While little evidence exists of a centrally directed, coherent and formally constituted "third force" on the basis of the above, the TRC found that a network of security and ex-security force operatives, often acting in conjunction with right-wing elements and/or sectors of the IFP, fomented, initiated, facilitated and engaged in violence that resulted in gross violations of human rights, including random and targeted killings. Such networks had established "partnerships" during the 1980s with pro-government individuals or groups at a local level, which then acted in concert to perpetrate such violations (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 128).

Importantly, the Commission found that the sanction of illegal activities by security force operatives during the 1980s provided the basis for their continuation in the 1990s, that these networks functioned with the active collusion and/or knowledge of senior security force personnel, and that the former government, either deliberately or by omission, failed to take sufficient steps to end to such practices.

The Commission also found that the success of "third force" attempts to generate violence was at least in part, a consequence of extremely high levels of political intolerance, for which both the liberation movements and other structures such as the IFP were held to be morally and politically accountable (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 6, Paragraph 129)

Although the military were deployed in trouble spots in KwaZulu-Natal and the Gauteng regions, little detail of how and where the military were specifically responsible for violations was uncovered. The relationship between the military and the communities they worked in was not confirmed and varied over time and from location to location. In some areas, such as Katlehong on the East Rand, the military was increasingly regarded by embattled hostel residents as "anti-Inkatha" and "pro-ANC". In the neighbouring community, the military was seen as a "lesser evil" than the local SAP Internal Stability Unit. In general, all security force agencies lacked legitimacy.

In response to these and other findings made by the TRC with respect to the military, the South African Defence Force Contact Bureau provided a 60-page analysis of the report in May 1999. The generals again accused the TRC of deliberately manipulating the facts as set out in the SADF's submissions (SA Defence Contact Bureau, 1999).

Impact of the TRC

In the context of limited insight and disclosures, the TRC could make only a series of broad recommendations regarding the military (TRC, 1998, Volume 5, Chapter 8, Paragraphs 63-67). These covered a range of issues from civilian oversight to civil education within the military (as recommended in the Defence White Paper). The TRC made a series of specific recommendations relating to its investigations into the SADF's Chemical and Biological Warfare programme (also known as Project Coast), including one that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry should be established to investigate:

The TRC also recommended:

Despite concerns raised regarding the quality and nature of civilian oversight, the Department of Defence (DOD) claims that "civil control" is well established. It also points out that the civic education programme continues and that "a significant percentage" of DOD members "have been exposed to it".42 It appears that little if any attention has been paid to the other TRC recommendations.

Despite the potential importance of the TRC for the military's achieving its transformation and the broader goals of re-orienting civil-military relations, the military, to all intents and purposes, ignored the TRC. Consequently, the impact of the TRC on the military has been minimal. Its recommendations were regarded as too weak and lacking specificity and clarity as to what steps should be taken. Moreover, the military distrusted the TRC process, which many former SADF members regarded as a witch-hunt. SANDF members with a background in the non-statutory forces were more likely to co-operate with the TRC, which, in turn, bred a certain resentment against SADF colleagues who simply refused to divulge details of their complicity in gross human rights violations. It appears that much more could have been done in terms of institutional transformation, if a refined set of recommendations had been developed, so that the TRC's recommendations could have been synchronised with an ongoing transformational dialogue seeking to address concerns of the rank and file members and the leadership cadre (Williams, 2000).

South Africa's Transition: From Authoritarianism to Democracy

South Africa's political settlement entailed the inheritance of state institutions and their bureaucracies. This resulted in a complex set of relationships between former allies and enemies, including former members of the SADF, Bantustan armies and the military formations of the liberation movements.

While some define the period of the South African "transition" as between 1986 and 1994, that is, from the very beginnings of "negotiations" (talks about talks) until the first non-racial and democratic elections in April 1994 (Seegers, 1996, p. 283), others use this term to refer to the new social and legal order achieved in South Africa since that election, or at least the transformation of the political and economic fabric of society that began with the election.

Whatever the time period, it is clear that South Africa's "transition" has been characterised by an ongoing "process of liberalising an authoritarian political regime as well as the abandonment of the policy of racial separation". As such, this process set out to "achieve a more acceptable economic and social system as well as a more democratic system of governance" (Tucker & Scott, 1992, p.12). One could argue that this process was already underway in the early 1980s, when former President P.W. Botha introduced his own constitutional "reform" package.

Consequently, in South Africa, "transition" is generally defined as something more than the interval between one political regime and another (mere "regime shift") or a shift from authoritarian to democratic rule. It includes the notion of "transformation" (Cock, 2000). South Africa, including its military and other public and private institutions, remains (some eight years after the first democratic elections) in a process of transformation. As one political commentator points out "… if there is a reasonable expectation among a significant section of society that the basic rules governing society could change, then that society is still in a period of transition" (Friedman, 2000).

Basic evidence of this is clear from the fact that the integration process with respect to the SANDF was due to be completed (only) towards the end of 2001 after more than a seven-year process. A final intake, comprising 190 former MK and 145 former APLA members, to follow previous intakes in July 1998 and November 1999, was planned for September 2001.43

In addition to the fact that the transition did not follow the collapse of the State or the economy, an important difference between the South African transition and the transitions in Latin America and Eastern Europe, with which South Africa is frequently compared is that, for white people at least, South Africa before 1990 was democratic albeit with many features of authoritarianism under National Party rule (Guelke, 1999, p. 18). The semblance of constitutionalism, the separation of powers and the "rule of law" were not alien, even though the security forces were used for illegal activities, which were not intended to be subject to judicial scrutiny.

The Transition and the Military44

Political transition can be divided into the following three broad categories: overthrow, reform and compromise (O' Donnell, Scmitter & Whitehead, 1986). When the apartheid regime and the opposition (liberation) forces realised that further conflict would not result in a victory for any party, and that an inclusive negotiated settlement was possible, a compromise similar to those reached in two other Southern African states, Namibia and Zimbabwe, was achieved. In these situations of compromise, the achievement of "lasting peace" and the viability of formally agreed peace accords are directly tied to the future role of the armed forces and the reform of the "security sector" (Berdal, 1997, p. 813).

Consequently, the future of the military was seen as central to South Africa's transition. For political reasons, the past image and role of the military forces had to be excised and trust in the army restored (Edmonds, 1994). An important vehicle for achieving this was the integration of the various armed forces into a new, single unit. For the new government, the integration process and the Defence Forces' subsequent rationalisation and reduction to a manageable and affordable size were primary tasks (Motumi & Hudson, 1995). The military, as a state institution, needed be transformed and its defence policy re-conceptualised. The challenge was to integrate or demobilise [currently] distinct and conflicting elements, thus creating a force structure which is both efficient and politically acceptable (Mills, 1990).

In 1990, this view was not shared by the National Party government or the SADF, both of which believed that it was not necessary to change the racial composition or political orientation of the SADF, as it "was the only organisation in South Africa that spans (sic) the whole political spectrum, [and] had succeeded in welding a diverse (sic) of cultures, population groups and also political beliefs into a formidable fighting machine that had a unifying effect on the country" (Meiring, 1990, pp. 13 - 17). Similarly, in his briefing to the parliamentary defence debate in May of that same year, the then Minister of Defence, General Malan, emphatically rejected the possibility of integrating the SADF and MK (Nathan, 1991, p. 3).

For the ANC, by contrast, "it was inconceivable that the SADF would continue to serve as the South African defence force after apartheid" and what was required was "an entirely new defence force, comprising elements of MK, the SADF, the homeland armies and the armed wings of the PAC and Azapo", in part, at least, to quell any possibility of SADF intervention in the political process. This new defence force could prevent the SADF from acting as a disruptive force through the use of its network of front companies and rural commanders and its access to funds from the Special Defence Account or, worse still, staging a coup d'‚tat. Some political commentators (but not all) saw this latter scenario as a distinct possibility (Nathan, 1991, p. 4).45 That Wouter Basson, the SADF's Chemical and Biological Warfare expert, who was tried and controversially acquitted for a range of crimes including murder and fraud, was taken into the SANDF illustrates fears regarding the capacity of the SADF's top brass to spearhead a coup, and the need to incorporate it into the new order - in a way that would leave them acquiescent (Cock, 2000). According to one commentator from this period, SADF negotiators reminded MK throughout the negotiation process of the potential for de-railing the process (Frankel, 2000, p. 24).

The PAC was as emphatic as the ANC about the need for the SADF to be "rehabilitated and remoulded". "For the successful formation of the new army it must be accepted as a fact that the African people and their armies must form the basis of the future army" (Romero, 1994, p.50).

There was, thus, initial resistance from the National Party government, to the idea of integrating the various armed forces. After a series of clandestine meetings between MK and the SADF in 1991, there was, by 1992, however, a "remarkable degree of consensus between the South African government and the ANC on defence matters", resulting in the start of formal negotiations between the SADF and MK in April 1993 (Gutteridge, 1994, p. 7).

These negotiations focussed on, inter alia, the need to integrate all the armed forces. South Africa was unique in that each player had its own armed forces (SADF, homeland forces, MK, APLA). The process, however, was dominated by the monopolistic inclinations of the SADF and MK, to exclude the TBVC militaries and minor liberation movement armed formations (Frankel, 2000, p. 2).

Negotiations went ahead in the context of the ongoing political talks, which had also increasingly taken on a bi-lateral flavour in the wake of the breakdown in talks following the Boipatong massacre in June 1992. A breakthrough meeting in April 1993 at Simonstown led to the initiation of three processes that were to dominate the military agenda: the Transitional Executive Council's (TEC's) Sub-Council on Defence; Assembly Areas; and the National Peace-Keeping Force (NPKF).

Under the patronage of the Transitional Executive Council's Sub-Council on Defence and the Joint Military Co-ordinating Council (JMCC), the various military formations that were to integrate into the new SANDF embarked on a process of planning and policy formulation. The process eventually brought on board the SADF, MK and the four homeland defence forces, and later included APLA.

Despite a range of frustrations and problems, a remarkable degree of consensus and progress was achieved between the former protagonists. Some commentators argue that it was the violence of the early 1990s that drew the key parties together, and "the common understanding" that "the power of the SADF became the guarantor (of) the political system that the ANC sought to inherit" (Frankel, 2000, p. 21). Ironically, it now seemed that the overall success of political negotiations ultimately depended on the acquiescence of the military formations on all sides and on the urgent need to provide some sort of institutional umbrella under which some level of control over all armed protagonists could be engineered.

This situation fed perceptions that MK's negotiators were selling its members short. Nevertheless, with no apparent external threat, and despite competing political and economic priorities, both sides agreed that they should create a smaller highly professional army. The process, however, continued to be frustrated by an unresolved debate over "retaining standards", versus "affirmative action". When SADF held out an olive branch of a range of senior MK appointments and a promise of bridging training for all MK members, "the deal was virtually struck" (Frankel, 2000, p. 25). This has appeared to many, in retrospect, a recipe for MK's absorption into the "old order" rather than a process of balanced integration (Frankel, 2000, p. 28).

The first attempts to instil institutional control over the disparate military forces came in early 1994, with the establishment of a 10 000 strong National Peace-Keeping Force (NPKF) drawn from several, but not all, rival armies. In a context of ongoing political violence, the need to establish a legitimate security force presence became essential. Drawn primarily from MK and TBVC forces, the NPKF was deployed in the strife-ridden Katorus townships on the East Rand during April 1994, only weeks before the elections. Some analysts had warned of the possibility that such a move could be ineffectual or counter-productive (Nathan, 1994). The NPKF was intended to replace the Internal Stability Division (ISD) of the South African Police (SAP) and SADF units, both of which had been deployed in the area. The ISD had earned a notorious reputation among township residents, who had actively campaigned for its withdrawal. SADF units were accused by IFP-supporting hostel residents of targeting and victimising their members. The IFP called for their withdrawal, and in contradiction to the surrounding residents, the retention of the ISD. In this very volatile, antagonistic context, the subsequent NPKF deployment was almost inevitably disastrous, "because of disorganisation, politicisation and little, logistical support" (Davenport, 1998, p. 30). The NPKF was disbanded shortly thereafter.

On the eve of the 1994 first democratic general election, the SANDF replaced the South African Defence Force (SADF). At this time is was already recognised that the success of demobilisation and integration of the armed forces would hinge on how the new government handled the questions of race and ethnicity, which had been the cornerstones of the policies of the outgoing government (Holomisa, 1994).

The Integration Process

Although the transition from the SADF to the SANDF was one of those processes that has looked very smooth and easy, it has been tremendously complicated and marred by tension and dissatisfaction. Amalgamation involved unifying seven armed formations into one force and, at the same time, converting non-statutory force members into a conventional army.

"Integration" normally refers to a process in which armed forces and military traditions are merged into one defence force after the end of a war. However, the short-term to long-term process of replacing the SADF with a truly National Defence Force (SANDF), consisting of the so-called "statutory" and "non-statutory" forces that had been at war for 37 years, was more complex. "Logic dictates" that demobilisation and rationalisation should have preceded integration, but "due to the political circumstances surrounding civil-military relations in South Africa, the converse has occurred" (Frankel, 2000, p. 197). The South African example was therefore "largely an experiment in uncharted waters" (Frankel, 2000, p. 69). As such, it provides valuable lessons and insights into the impact of political transition on contemporary manifestations of conflict, violence and reconciliation within the SANDF structures, and on a society built on militarism. Integration "met a political and symbolic need of bringing two sides together in a manifestation of national unity and the practical expedience of coping with thousands of armed ex-guerrillas" (Edmonds, 1994). "The exercise of merging and transformation was undertaken as a political imperative, independent of the processes of defence policy formulation and the exercise of SANDF force structure and operational review" (Edmonds, 1994). In many ways the creation of this new national defence force was the symbolic culmination of the negotiations process in South Africa.46

The integration process was numerically unequal, with the former SADF dominating. This imbalance created the sense that the other forces were assimilated and absorbed into the existing SADF rather than that a new structure was being formed. It was virtually "pre-ordained" that the former SADF would provide the framework for integration, given its size, organisational differentiation and infrastructure (Frankel, 2000, p. 48).

Integration started badly, with high levels of discontent amongst the largely non-SADF members, who felt excluded. In September 1994, 2 500 combatants walked out of Wallmansthal, a temporary transit post in the integration process and 265 did not return. This was followed by a violent protest in Durban at the beginning of 1995, by 200 MK soldiers. MK cadres also marched on Parliament and the ANC offices in Cape Town, to protest against their exclusion from the integration process. Although the situation improved later, the process continued to be plagued by a host of contentious issues, including security of tenure, standards, status, promotions and salaries. Poor communication skills, organisational and bureaucratic difficulties, ill discipline and unrealised expectations, compounded this. Non-statutory members with less than seven-years' service (including recruits from the late 1980s and early 1990s) were offered only two-year short-term (renewable) contracts.

All sides felt vulnerable. Bridging training, which was obligatory for all non-statutory force members, was regarded as inadequate. Concerns arose that the rationalisation process would favour former SADF and TBVC members. At the same time, many former SADF members felt threatened by deteriorating prospects for advancement in the face of affirmative action.

"It was at this level - in the crucible of training - perhaps more than anywhere else in the integration process that the contrasting cultures of the SADF and MK-APLA came up hard against each other - with inevitable friction on both sides". Between January and August 1995, for example, almost 500 instructors (mainly former SADF officers and NCOs) alone, resigned from the army (Frankel, 2000, p. 72).

These integration-related problems also contributed directly to the frustrations of those who were subsequently demobilised. Studies conducted in 2001 on the re-entry of demobilised military personnel into South Africa's economic life have clearly shown that the majority remain unemployed and struggle to support themselves and their families.47 This supports earlier research suggesting that demobilisation did not "provide for the effective reintegration of former combatants in society".48 The problem still exists. In November 2001, about 2 500 former and serving soldiers attempted to "invade" Botswana, in order to re-occupy their former MK-bases and to re-enlist with the SANDF.49

The demobilisation policies particularly have been very weak. The process has been apparently smooth but it has not been a process of integration - it has been a process of absorption of the liberation armies into the SADF. So even though theoretically there is the new defence orientation, its still very much white controlled and white dominated and even though one now has black leadership - they talk the talk of the old militarists. It's been absorption rather than integration and has been full of difficulties.50
Defence Budgets

The ending of South Africa's occupation of Namibia and the unbanning of the liberation movements prompted a dramatic cut in defence expenditure, by 10% in the 1990-1991 budget and a further 10% in the 1991-1992 budget. Allocations to defence (at least initially) saw a steady decline in expenditure, in terms of the percentage of GDP, as Table 1 suggests:


1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
In constant Dollars 3,565 3,138 2,858 3,023 2,691 2,337 2,151 1,921 1,833 2,127
In local currency (m. Rands) 10,699 10,724 10,713 12,352 11,942 11,143 11,124 10,622 10,656 13,007
% of GDP 3.2 2.9 2.5 2.6 2.2 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.3 -
Table: 1. Sourced from SIPRI Yearbook 2001

In budget year 1998/99, the defence department received R9 958bn, R720m less than the previous financial year. The 1990s, however, saw a rise in overall defence spending; partly because of the expensive nature of the integration and demobilisation processes, and partly because of the controversial and costly decision, popularly known as "The Arms Deal", to purchase defence equipment to upgrade the SANDF's capabilities. These increases have been criticised by a number of civil society groups who claim that money is being redirected from women and children for submarines and weapons, and by some members of the ANC - one of whom controversially declined to vote for the defence budget.51 R 18.4 billion is allocated to the 2002/3 defence budget, an increase to 1.7% of GDP. This represents the first real increase in defence expenditure within the last ten years.52

Force Numbers

The integration of the various armed formations initially led to an increase in SANDF force numbers, which peaked at 102 600 in 1995/96. This was below projected expectations of 138 000, mainly because thousands of non-statutory force members whose names were on the Certified Personnel Register (CPR) failed to turn up at the Assembly Areas (Institute for Security Studies, 2001a, p. 9).53 Thousands began to take voluntary demobilisation. By April 2000, force numbers stood at 82 258,54 and by March 2001 these had decreased further to 78 823 members.55

Most of the reductions have been the result of natural attrition, demobilisation and voluntary severance or the voluntary non-renewal of contracts and the newly created Employer Initiated Retrenchment (EIR) package.56 However, the "voluntary" nature of the demobilisation has been questioned: "they may call it natural attrition - but how natural is it really. Resignations, for example, follow the perception that one is not able to stay - that one does not have a future in the SANDF".57

In general, problems associated with the integration and transformation process have also been linked to questions of morale. As the SANDF expanded (with the combining of the various armed formations) there was a very public announcement that force numbers would need to shrink. This made the transformation much more difficult because it created uncertainty as to who would be competing against whom. The "other" factor became the threat. For "straight people" it became "gays" and lesbians; for whites it was blacks; for men it was women.58 The extent to which the rationalisation process was discussed with or amongst, combatants is moot. Its contribution to a climate of uncertainty is self-evident (Frankel, 2000, pp. 199 - 200).

It should also be noted that in June 2001, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota recommended to Parliament the introduction of a service system that would entail the recruitment of 10 000 young people per year on the basis of a two-year voluntary military service. "This would enable the SANDF to retain the necessary average age and best physical capacity among the bulk of [its] members".59 Such a process would facilitate the goal of achieving a pared-down professional force. The SANDF thus seems at present to be moving towards an American model, where a career in a defence force is not seen as a life-time commitment. "One comes in for a ten-year period or so, thus creating a situation where personnel shouldn't be older than 50 or so and the lower ranks between 18 and 28 years of age. So demobilisation has implied a skills-training programme. The problem is that it is easier for a 55-year-old colonel to find a job in management consulting or whatever and it is very difficult for the large number of non-commissioned officers to find work in the private sector".60

The scale of the proposed rationalisation is unprecedented. "The pervasive sense of being at risk is concretised by the fact that all NDF members (the CSANDF excepted) are now temporary staff as the vanguard of the rationalisation process moves into full acceleration." Disillusion and fear pervades the heterogeneous armed forces. Whites continue to see themselves as "pawns in a political chess match" where their futures have been negotiated away and "combat capability is sacrificed on the altar of representation". Thousands have left the military, many gravitating towards the security industry and "allied work in defence industries". Junior non-statutory force members are probably the most vulnerable, as they have fewer convertible skills, and generally have access to a more limited social security net. The situation is particularly bad for those former self-defence and self-protection unit members who were not able to access the integration process. "This group (with generally low skills and a history of disrupting the integration process) is a prime but explosive target for forced retrenchments. It is also the least absorbable into civil society" (Frankel, 2000, pp. 199 - 202).

The rationalisation process will continue throughout 2002 and 2003, with reductions to as few as 65 000 force members "to ensure that the envisaged force design will be aligned with both future national defence requirements and defence budget realities" (Institute for Security Studies, 2001a, p. 9). Despite these reductions South Africa will probably still have the largest armed force in Southern Africa, constituting 57% of the total armed forces and personnel in the region (Satgar, 2000, p. 12).

Attrition Figures for the SANDF

The figures for personnel who have left the military for various reasons, including death, retirement and voluntary severance packages, retrenchment and misconduct from April 1994 to March 2000, per former force, were as follows:

Former Force Total
APLA 1,243
BOP 1,550
CISKEI 1,207
KZSPF 253
MK 3,885
SANDF 3,093
SADF 40,901
TRANSKEI 2,071
VENDA 126
TOTAL 54,326

Interestingly, the SADF total includes 13 969 resignations, 2 498 discharges and 14 316 personnel members who took voluntary severance packages. The MK figure includes 669 deaths.

As the rationalisation and demobilisation processes continue, the SANDF continues to shed personnel monthly. The figures for September 2001 alone are as follows:

Former Force Total
APLA 21
BOP 1
CISKEI -
KZSPF 1
MK 27
SANDF 47
SADF 187
TRANSKEI 1
VENDA 1
TOTAL 288

Between April and September of the financial year 2000-2001, a total of 389 SANDF members died and a further 725 resigned. Of those who died during the financial year, 335 were below the age of 50 and of those who resigned, 700 were younger than 50.

South Africa's new Defence Policy

After the formal ending of apartheid in 1994, the defence policy of the South African military changed dramatically in concert with the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) and the adoption of a new interim constitution. All sides negotiating the military's future had agreed that the SANDF must be a functional component of the new democracy and would therefore "have to be reengineered on different social foundations". This, in turn, meant addressing issues such as representivity and appropriate civilian controls, and facilitating the military's visible participation in social reconstruction (Frankel, 2000, p. 101).

The Interim Constitution provided for the future military's political neutrality and parliamentary oversight. It also made provision for a "balanced, modern and technologically advanced military".61 The final constitution, adopted in 1996, defined the role and character of the military in more classical military terms, stating that:

In May 1996 a new White Paper on Defence63 was ratified by Parliament, with the aim of transforming both broad defence policy, and the SANDF. This draft legislation represented "a single fundamental break from the aggressive strategies of the National Party government" and sought to "bring defence policy in line with the new democratic dispensation" (Nathan, 1998, p.41). It was followed in 1997 by an extensive Defence Review that effectively translated the White Paper into practical terms aimed at making the proposals a reality.

Transformation, however, remains contested in many areas and "there is little consensus as to what this means or implies" (Frankel, 2000, p. 142). Specific aspects of the White Paper on Defence relate particularly to inculcating respect for and protection of human rights. These include the constitutional provision of the right of soldiers to disobey orders that contravene international law, and importantly, stipulations that would ensure civil supremacy over the armed forces.64 Both provisions aim to prevent a repetition of the use of the military in violent illegitimate activities "beyond the reach of the courts and outside the law" (Cock, 1990, p. 86).

The Defence Review process of interpreting the principles of the White Paper and developing clear policy frameworks began in February 1996. Final approval was given by Parliament in August 1997. The Review aimed to provide details of force design, human resource needs, defence planning, and finances, thereby underscoring the primary function of the SANDF to defend the country against external aggression. While the deployment of the SANDF in internal policing was considered undesirable, allowance was made for emergency situations and possible constitutional threat in South Africa.

The White Paper and Defence Review were thus essentially political processes designed "to emasculate and gain control over the defence complex".65 The ANC had come to power deeply suspicious of the SADF, fearing possibilities of a coup or some form of destabilisation. In 1995, the ANC had called for the disbanding of the commando system, which it saw as constituting the apartheid government's "self-defence units", and a repository for right-wing racism. This process, in turn, resulted in the declining ability of the military to support the police generally and, more specifically, to contribute to safety in rural areas. However, the issue of rural "safety" remains controversial,66 in light of allegations that certain commandos have taken the law into their own hands.67

The Defence Review did establish the parameters for future civil-military relations. Given the complexities of the overall process, it is not surprising that the South African experience has been touted as "perhaps [being] one of the most comprehensive and successful transformation processes … South Africa has managed successfully to implement [an] integration process during which seven different armies, each with their own traditions, culture and military histories were integrated into a national defence force admitting to a common culture and identity and united in a common allegiance to the country's new Constitution" (Chuter, 2000, p. 2). The image of success, however, has to some extent made it difficult to publicly address some of the residual and emerging problems that plague the ongoing process of transformation. "The NDF is, to an extent, hoist on its own petard since it continues to present itself as one of the most (if not the most) successful state sector in dealing with transformation" (Frankel, 2000, p. 204).

There is no doubt that the constitutional changes in South Africa have had a profound influence on the military establishment and civil-military relations (Van Wyk, 1996, p. 71). In addition to the White Paper on Defence and the Defence Review, the SANDF has also introduced a Code of Conduct and, for the first time, allowed for the establishment of two military trade unions, the SA National Union of Soldiers (SANUS) and the SA Security Forces Union (SASFU). Policy developments continue as a new Defence Act is being formulated to replace existing legislation that has been on the statute books since 1957. Furthermore, efforts to formulate a "Military Strategy", as a key component of South Africa's "National Security Policy", remain in progress.68 With regard to the Defence Bill that was submitted to Parliament during August 2001, key principles contained in the White Paper have been retained, including those maintaining:

Code of Conduct

On 15 February 2000, the Minister of Defence, Mr Mosiuoa Lekota, launched a code of conduct that has to be signed by all uniformed members of the SANDF. Significantly, the Code, which was formulated in consultation with civil-society interest groups and members of the Department of Defence, commits each individual member of the SANDF to, inter alia:

Transformation however remains contested in many areas and "there is little consensus as to what this means or implies" (Frankel, 2000, p.142). Controversy continues to rage over the debate around "guns versus butter", and remains focused on the controversial "Arms Deal", and its ethical, social and economic implications. There are also some concerns regarding the extent to which policy has been translated into practice in a number of areas, "especially in relation to transparency; affirmative action for women and black soldiers; the return of SANDF-controlled land to communities that were dispossessed under apartheid; and arms exports". Concerns also extend to the limitation of civilian-military relations and the dominance of former SADF personnel within the SANDF hierarchy and Defence Secretariat (Nathan, 1998, pp. 53 - 57). Despite these evolving matters, important quantitative indicators, in terms of personnel and expenditure, for example, show that the military has downsized significantly and re-orientated its policies.

Linking Periods of Transition to Violence and Crime

Since the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960, South Africa has been portrayed as a state ruled by violence and even as the quintessential example of a society in conflict with itself (Davidson and Strand, 1993, p. 81). As such, South Africa was, and still is, seen to be prone to various forms of violence.

There were widespread expectations that the collapse of "communism" in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union would bring about an era of global peace. The decision of former South African State President, F.W. de Klerk, to release Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, and to enter into negotiations with political organisations (some of which had been proscribed for almost three decades) such as the ANC, PAC and the South African Communist Party (SACP), which would inevitably bring about the "demise of the last legally sanctioned, racially segregated society in the world" evoked similar hopes (Habib, Pillay and Desai, 1998, p. 95). However, in South Africa, unparalleled levels of violence continually frustrated the negotiation process. Why was this so?

Experiences from other societies undergoing transition have, over the preceding decade or so, resulted in a growing recognition that understanding contemporary dynamics requires a detailed understanding of the past - and in particular, a violent political past. In order to understand the present situation in South Africa and deal with future challenges, it is therefore necessary to grasp how South Africa got to where it is presently (Oden & Ohlson, 1993, p. 12).

Periods of political transition are, in general, the most volatile for any society (Louw, 1992). Transitional societies such as those in Latin America and the former communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe have shown similar patterns (Shaw, 2000, p. 2). Political transition is often accompanied by dramatic changes in social and economic circumstances. Volatility frequently manifests itself in terms of high levels of crime, although why this is so "is a complex phenomenon difficult to analyse" (Shaw, 2000, p. 3).

Understanding violent crime in South Africa is complicated by the fact that apartheid-related violence (both in terms of state repression, and liberation movement resistance) led to a blurring of the boundaries of political and criminal activity, because the state itself was often a significant source (although not defined as such at the time) of criminal activity (Shaw, 2000, p. 3). In the politically charged atmosphere of the pre-1994 election period, "the distinction between political and criminal motivations [was] somewhat arbitrary" (Louw, 1994, p. 16).

Whilst crime in general remains pervasive, violent crime in the post-1994 dispensation is particularly endemic. According to police statistics, 15 999 South Africans were murdered in 1994 and a further 20 046 people were victims of attempted murder.71 Between January and September 2001, 15 054 cases of murder and 21 207 cases of attempted murder were reported to the police.72 South Africans are now more than twice as likely to be murdered than to die in road accidents.73 "Crime in South Africa has ceased to be a phenomenon on the fringes of political and economic society … and is not only, and perhaps not even primarily, the result of poverty. It is a social and even a political artefact" (Ellis, 1999, p. 49 - 51).

The last 30 years of South African history shows that politics, violence and crime are inter-connected (Ellis, 1998, p. 296). One can therefore be easily tempted to deduce that many participants in local "criminal" violence are those who were regarded as political actors when apartheid was still in place. This is, as the VTP project suggests, a complex phenomenon that is difficult to reduce to a simple continuity between past and present perpetrators, victims and forms of violence. Care must be taken to avoid labelling specific role-players, especially those with a military background, as the current "criminals". This is particularly the case given the context of South Africa's militarised social order. Nevertheless, and because of popular perceptions regarding their alleged involvement, it is important to explore the role of former soldiers in violence and crime.74

The Role of Former Soldiers in Violence and Crime

In his address to the 50th National Conference of the ANC in 1997, president Mandela, warned against believing that "the obligation to defend, advance and deepen democracy has disappeared and that anti-democratic forces of counter-revolution no longer exist in our society". He accused "various elements of the former ruling group of establishing a network to intensify a campaign of destablisation". He claimed that the use of crime to render the country ungovernable was an important feature of this campaign, which aimed to "limit the possibilities of the democratic order to such an extent that it [the ANC] would not be able to create a society of equality …"

Consistent with the objectives we have just mentioned, it [the counter-revolutionary network] has engaged in practical activities which include: the encouragement and commission of crime; the weakening and incapacitation of the state machinery, including the theft of public assets, arms and ammunition being among these; the hiding of sensitive and important information from legal organs of state; and the building of alternative structures, including intelligence machineries as well as armed formations.75

In February 1998, former SANDF chief, General George Meiring, personally handed Mandela a report alleging that there was a left-wing plot to topple the government. The report, produced by Military Intelligence, was based on dubious sources, and claimed that senior politicians, including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Bantu Holomisa and current SANDF chief, Siphiwe Nyanda amongst others, had conspired against the government and were linked to a range of criminal activities, including gun-running. The "Meiring Report" was subsequently dismissed by government as a disinformation attempt "linked to the destabilisation campaign", and Meiring was effectively forced into early retirement. The debacle also prompted the formation of a Commission of Inquiry to examine the function and use of the intelligence community in South Africa.76

The potential for disgruntled former combatants to pose a threat to South Africa's security and stability was another matter for serious concern. Ex-combatants, it was feared, might have easy access to weapons or, at least, form extensive networks to guarantee the continual supply of weapons. The alleged establishment of paramilitary groupings, such as the South African Total Liberation Force and the Committee of Four exacerbated this fear (Motumi, 1995, p. 15). Limitations and constraints on demobilisation and vocational skills training further reinforced concerns that former combatants may turn to a life of crime. The involvement of renegade ANC self-defence units and Inkatha-aligned self-protection units in the violence of the early 1990s was alleged by the Human Rights Committee.77 Fears regarding ex-combatants were exploited by unscrupulous elements within the security forces. A controversial report released by former SAPS Commissioner, George Fivaz, for example, attempted to link disillusioned elements within MK and APLA to a series of arms thefts from military bases. The report claimed that a group calling themselves Mkapla planned to disrupt the 1999 elections. The key source for the report subsequently denied making the allegations.78

While foreigners and illegal immigrants have increasingly become scapegoats for problems of crime and unemployment, ex-guerrillas have also become "easy symbols of menace, social dislocation and threat".79 Although some former guerrillas have been involved in robberies, including cash-in-transit heists, the extent of their participation in crime remains unclear and should not be exaggerated. They constitute only one factor in a complex situation (Laurence, 1998). Few robberies are carried out using AK-47s, a weapon commonly associated with MK combatants. Criminals rarely use the Kalashnikov assault rifle. Criminals use AK47s in less than 3% of murders (and, probably, in a minority of robberies).80

It can be speculated that certain former MK-APLA combatants have turned to crime as a result of the failure to integrate a sizeable number of MK-APLA fighters into either the SANDF or the wider economic community. Perhaps similar problems propel ex-combatants from disbanded battalions of the old SADF towards crime. "Demobilised but neglected ex-combatants who faced one another in battle during the old days gravitate towards one another in post-apartheid South Africa and join hands to rob the society that abandoned them" (Cawthra, quoted in Laurence, 1998).

The failure to integrate MK and APLA fully into the new SANDF is implicit in the following figures: of the 32 000 MK and 6 000 APLA fighters on the certified personnel register drawn up to facilitate integration of the different armies in 1994, 6000 TBVC force members and 2000 KZSPF, only 15 000 were accepted for service within the SANDF (Institute for Security Studies, 2000a, p. 9). Many of those not integrated for various reasons, such as disqualification or voluntary departure, were members of the self-defence units that were hastily recruited in the last phases of the armed struggle and were therefore less well trained and disciplined than MK veterans who were trained abroad.

In the same way that former MK combatants are blamed for the cash-in-transit heists, former APLA fighters are often accused of responsibility for attacks on farmers.81 According to Agri South Africa, more than 1000 people have died in 5 594 attacks on farms since 1991. In the first six months of 2001, 67 people died in 461 incidents.82 Many farmers suspect a political motive, and believe that the attacks are intended to drive them from the land. Because the attacks are often carried out with "military precision", APLA has become the main suspect. In several cases, APLA slogans have also been daubed on the walls of properties that have come under attack.

The South African Agricultural Union (SAAU) requested that a judicial inquiry into farm killings be implemented, but this call was rejected by (former) President Mandela, who subsequently asked the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to investigate. The consequent report, which was not publicly released, indicated that the majority of attacks were criminally (and not politically) motivated. These findings were greeted with scepticism by (former) Freedom Front leader Constand Viljoen, because the attacks were "well-planned". The PAC's Free State leader, Thomas Likotsi, is on record as attributing the murders to disenchanted APLA and MK members. He believes that, frustrated by their experience in the new Defence Force and having spent their R15 000-exit payment, they now use their guerrilla skills to survive.83

The ideologies of the PAC and APLA reinforce the belief of farmers that APLA combatants are responsible for many of the attacks on them. The PAC and its armed combatants have always been associated with the view that whites are settlers and the land needs to be returned to its true owners. Newspaper cuttings, however, record only one case where an ex-APLA fighter has been convicted for murder. Recent research into the profiles of convicted farm attackers found that not one of the 60 incidents reviewed was politically motivated.84 These facts underline the risk of pinning a disproportionately high share of the blame on the APLA factor and are a reminder that violence and violent crime is multi-faceted.

In April 2001, the national SAPS Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, appointed a Committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks. Its mandate is to inquire into the ongoing spate of attacks on farms, including violent criminal acts such as murder, robbery and rape, to determine the motives and factors behind these attacks, and to make recommendations on its findings.85 The Committee has yet to release its findings.

While former liberation force members are commonly linked with violent crime (cash-in-transit heists and farm attacks) within popular perceptions, less attention is given to the potential involvement of former SADF members in violence, for example, through private security companies. The scope for a "racialisation" of violence and the scape-goating of particular groups in this regard requires further study.

Criminality and the Military

The Department of Defence has recognised the importance of addressing issues of criminality within the SANDF, and is currently implementing a Strategy to Combat Criminality (Department of Defence, Annual Report, 2000/2001).

Recorded violent incidents within the SANDF during 2000-2001 show that there were 226 cases of assault and 149 shooting incidents. Between July 1999 and February 2000, over R7 million worth of equipment was stolen from various bases and units of the SANDF. These included: R1 and R4 rifles, 9mm pistols, an FT5 Missile, mortars, and a large number of motor vehicles, computers, "camo" shirts and jackets and personal belongings.86 Furthermore, unlicensed firearms have been confiscated by police from army bases, a number of SANDF reservists are currently facing charges of "abusing their uniforms to carry out hate crimes", and a colonel and a retired colonel are facing fraud charges relating to a demobilisation fund.87 In August 2001, a SANDF member was caught selling stolen firearms in the Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown. Twenty-six automatic rifles and thirteen R1 rifles, all of which had allegedly been stolen from the military base in the town, were recovered.88

In July 2000, over 100 alleged victims of police and army brutality converged on the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) base in Ermelo to call for the disbanding of local commando units.89 Although the commando units fall under SANDF control, units operating in the greater Wakkerstroom and Piet Retief areas have allegedly been subverted to serve the interests of local white farmers.90 The commandos in these areas have a history of allegedly abusing local farmworkers.91 This is not unique to these areas and reflects a more widespread problem involving certain elements within the commando structures. According to a Human Rights Watch report released in August 2001, black farm workers in rural South Africa are widely subjected to physical abuse, including rape and sexual harassment. In its report HRW states that various complainants have filed criminal charges against the commandos.92

Members of the SANDF have also been accused of "terrorising and unleashing a reign of terror" in urban townships. For example, on the East Rand, the members of the army base in Thokoza, which includes members of the former liberation armies, Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Azanian People's Liberation Army, have been involved in arrests, kangaroo courts and the destruction of property.93

The Violence of the Transition Period

Unprecedented levels of violence marked South Africa's transition. In contrast to that of the mid-70s and mid-80s, however, the violence of the early 1990s bore a different hallmark. Widespread and indiscriminate on the one hand, focused and targeted on the other, the violence was characterised by a series of massacres at places where people gathered socially (bars, restaurants, and night vigils); by attacks on commuter trains, taxis and workplaces; and by shootings and assassinations. Affected communities were divided along political, ethnic and geographical lines, and in the Gauteng province, frequently along residential (hostel and neighbouring community) lines.

Exactly how many people were killed is unclear. What is clear is that over 14 000 South Africans lost their lives in violence between 1990 and 1994; more than at any other period of the war to overthrow apartheid (Ellis, 1998, p. 263). Estimates suggest, for example, that between September 1984 and the end of 1989, 3 500 people died in political violence throughout South Africa; the number estimated to have been killed in about 90 000 incidents between 1984 and the end of 1993 is 11 000 (Van Vuuren, 1995, p. 11). Official figures show that in 1990 alone, 17 088 violent incidents resulted in large numbers of deaths, compared with 17 957 recorded incidents in the three years immediately preceding 1990. The fatality figure for the first four years of the transition period (1990 - 1993) is estimated to be in the region of 11 186 (Van Vuuren, 1995, p.11). This translates into an annual rate of more than four times that of the period prior to 1990. From 1993 to June 1995 over 7 000 people were killed, often with the AK47s and R4s.94 Disturbingly, July 1993, when the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum set 27 April 1994 as the deadline for holding elections, was the second-most violent month of the transition period (South African Institute of Race Relations, 1997, p. 600). The extent of the violence can also be gauged from the estimated annual number of deaths in politically related unrest in Natal alone: 1989 (559); 1990 (1685); 1991 (1324); 1992 (1481); 1993 (1975)95 and 1994 (1603) 1995 (905) 1996 (536) 1997 (334).96

The period between 1990 and 1994 may thus be considered as the time when the war "for South Africa, previously fought most ferociously outside the county's borders now enveloped South Africa itself" (Ellis, 1998, p. 263). The deterioration of the situation raises a number of important questions, such as who was responsible, who benefited, and what role did violence play in the negotiations themselves (Guelke, 1999, p. 45; Guelke, 2000, p. 242).

There is some suggestion that organised violence during this period was disconnected from the narrative of negotiations. It has been suggested that many of the people who perpetrated this violence continued to play an important role in South Africa, and in some cases were believed to be persisting in the use of violence in pursuit of their aims (Ellis, 1998, p.263). Others have argued that the predominant conflict in the pre-1990 era involved those who were in control of the process and that in the 1990s the locus of the conflict moved to those excluded from political power (Olivier, 1992).

Oden & Ohlson (1993) identified three main types of violence in this period: political-ideological, criminal, and ethnic. All of these had their roots in the combined political, socio-economic and mental impact of racial oppression, segregation and apartheid in South Africa. Between 1990 and 1993 South African politics was marked by two competing trends: the coming together of political adversaries to negotiate solutions and a struggle for ascendancy. For the National Party government, this translated into a double agenda of portraying itself as a responsible political participant preparing, through dialogue, to create a democratic South Africa, while at the same time undermining, through different forms of covert action, the African National Congress as a credible political force (Oden & Ohlson, 1993, p. 1).

Each of the main political parties had a very different concept of what constituted legitimate political activity. All publicly called for an end to the violence, and key protagonists regarded the violent actions of their supporters as defensive and, therefore, legitimate actions. Although the Government had lifted the ban on political organisations, removing many apartheid laws and freeing political prisoners, in the violent early 1990s there were widespread allegations that the security forces, particularly elements of the SAP, were continuing their "dirty-tricks" campaign, providing funding for Inkatha's public rallies, weapons and protection for Inkatha, and support for attacks on UDF and ANC supporters, and generally involving themselves in domestic destabilisation (Ellis, 1998).

The differing roles of the security forces during the negotiation period and the extent of direct or indirect military involvement in the violence remains unclear. Hard evidence is limited. In 1990, the Harms Commission heard details of the activities of the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB). Although the unit was officially disbanded in 1989, CCB operations continued both inside South Africa and across its borders. In April 1990, for example, an attempt was made by CCB operatives to assassinate Father Michael Lapsley in Zimbabwe, by sending a parcel bomb that caused him serious injuries (TRC, 1998, Volume 2, Chapter 7, Paragraphs 47 - 51).

Moreover, the Goldstone Commission (of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation) uncovered some evidence of covert operations mounted by Military Intelligence. In 1996, the former Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan, went on trial in connection with the training during the 1980s, of an Inkatha hit-squad. Although Malan, other senior military and IFP personalities were acquitted, the case established that the military had trained Inkatha members, who were subsequently involved in a number of killings, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

The military were deployed in certain affected communities, with mixed results. In the Katorus townships, many community residents welcomed their presence in place of the feared SAP's Internal Stability Division. In Phola Park, a neighbouring informal settlement, the military had a very poor reputation, especially after a violent search and seize operation was conducted by members of 32 Battalion in April 1992. A subsequent enquiry by the Goldstone Commission found that these soldiers had acted in a manner "completely inconsistent with the function of a peacekeeping force and, in fact, became perpetrators of violence" (TRC, 1998, Volume 2, Chapter 7, Paragraph 41).

Ongoing violence during this period and the argument that the violence had to cease before elections could take place played into the hands of those who sought to undermine the transition process and the ANC's ability to organise in affected communities. Violence monitors, human rights activists and political commentators at the time were particularly concerned about the apparent inability of the State to put a stop to the killings. Several explanations for this have been mooted, including that of the State's incapacity to manage the transition as a whole. It has also been suggested that this was the only means by which the National Party could strengthen its negotiating hand, and that covert operations undertaken by state operatives are best understood (as in the mid to late 1980s) within the context of a broader negotiating strategy (Ellis, 1998).

Manifestations of violence were not homogeneous, and different theories abounded as to causes and responsibility (Ellis, 1998, p. 262). Zulu (1994, p. 17) noted a number of inter-related levels of violence:

While it is true that criminal elements participated in this violence and were able to take advantage of the internecine conflict that developed in certain areas, the role and responsibility of the security forces in the violence remains contested despite the TRC's findings regarding "Third Force" activities. While it was and, to some degree, still is fairly common for much of the political violence to be described in terms of ANC and Inkatha rivalry, a wealth of documentation and circumstantial evidence now exists detailing the responsibility and involvement of the state and its security forces in the violence.97 The first hard evidence of complicity was videotape taken in December 1990 by a television news crew showing SAP members in an armoured vehicle helping Inkatha fighters during a battle in the Johannesburg township of Thokoza. Nico Basson, an ex-South African Defence Force (SADF) officer who claimed to have run an operation in Namibia in 1989, aimed at undermining the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) before the country's first elections, alleged that his old unit was then providing weapons, training, and direction to Inkatha (Meyers, 1997). After documents detailing state funding of Inkatha were leaked, several Inkatha members came forward with evidence of state-directed paramilitary training. President F.W. De Klerk was then forced to admit that at least 150 Inkatha fighters had been trained by the SADF at a camp in the Caprivi Strip during the 1980s (Meyers, 1997).98

The extent of former President De Klerk's control over the military during the 1990-1994 negotiation period is also unclear. In November 1992 during a raid on the offices of the Directorate of Covert Collections (DCC) by the Goldstone Commission, documents alleging military involvement in a range of illegal covert activities, many of which fell under the "Third Force" rubric, were seized. De Klerk appointed General Pierre Steyn, then Chief of Defence Force Staff, to conduct an investigation into the activities of certain military units. Steyn found that components of the SADF, including the Directorate of Covert Collection (DCC), Army Intelligence, Special Forces and the 7th Medical Battalion, were involved in a wide range of illegal and/or unauthorised activities in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These included:

In response to these findings, De Klerk placed six top-ranking SADF officials on compulsory early retirement and 16 on compulsory leave pending further investigation. By the end of December, 15 of the 23 had been cleared of possible links to illegal or criminal actions. It was also announced that a board of enquiry would be constituted to examine possible illegal and/or criminal or unauthorised actions involving three SADF, and four civilian members.

The Steyn documents were handed over to a team of investigators consisting of the Attorneys-General of the Witwatersrand and the Transvaal, the SAP and the Auditor-General, under the direction of Transvaal Attorney-General, Jan D' Oliviera. Some of the allegations were referred to the Goldstone Commission for further investigation. Before taking early retirement in October 1993, Steyn submitted his last report to the Minister of Defence, noting that few, if any, of the suspects had been questioned and there had been little progress in gathering evidence ((TRC, 1998, Volume 3, Chapter 7, Paragraphs 18 - 25).

Steyn also found strong evidence of the planting of weapons in Swaziland to discredit the ANC, corruption of DCC members in arms deals and the selective leaking of documents to right-wing groups. He also reported that the allegations of the involvement of the SADF's Reconnaissance Regiment in train violence as probably true.

Steyn's inquiry, the subsequent report and the action taken against senior SADF officers created considerable rancour within the SADF. At the TRC's armed forces hearings in October 1997, former SADF chief, Constand Viljoen, strenuously denied there was any credible evidence of SADF involvement in these activities, claiming that Steyn's report was based on unsubstantiated allegations contained in reports produced primarily by the NIS, and by the SADF's own counter-intelligence department in MID.100 With the significant exception of the criminal prosecution of Brigadier Wouter Basson, for a host of illegal activities, ranging from fraud to murder in connection with the SADF's chemical and biological warfare programme, there has been no apparent progress regarding these issues.

Fears of military complicity accompanied concerns about right-wing violence in the run-up to the 1994 elections. Although there were undoubtedly pockets of right-wing sympathy within the security forces, in retrospect one might argue that the threat of a right-wing coup was highly exaggerated, as was the potential destabilising role that right-wing members in the army and police could and would play after the ANC took power. Even at the time, commentators noted that: "It is difficult to assess the number of police and army members who support the right wing. It also serves the interests of the right wing, the state and other conservatives to present the rightwing as a major threat" (Institute of Criminology, c1991, p. 64).

From a different historical perspective, however, recent revelations by former SADF chief, Constand Viljoen, suggest that South Africa did come to the brink of a potential bloodbath involving significant elements of the military. He explained that in March 1993, thousands of white farmers had appointed a "directorate" of retired generals to give then strategic leadership under the banner of the Afrikaner Volksfront. These and other conservative forces in the military and elsewhere looked to Constand Viljoen for leadership. A series of secret meetings between the "directorate" and senior ANC leaders was initiated. SADF chief, General George Meiring, gave the ANC and NP government a briefing "on Viljoen's military potential and the ghastly consequences of him not taking part in the elections".101 However, the détente broke down, as the Volksfront allied itself with homeland leaders: Lucas Mangope, Oupa Gqozo and IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Further talks between Viljoen and the ANC resulted in an agreement over incorporating the principle of self-determination into the interim constitution, but what appeared to be a breakthrough quickly turned sour. The ANC made a series of public statements claiming that it would never allow the creation of an Afrikaner homeland. According to Viljoen, "by January (1994), my own followers started pushing hard: they wanted to end all talks; they wanted the war to start." Viljoen claimed that using his military connections, he had mobilised between 50 and 60 000 men during 1993. "All these men had their weapons issued by the commandos, but Viljoen claims he never used the commando system itself. But he also bargained on getting a substantial number of officers and soldiers in the SADF to join him when the moment came."102

Viljoen denies that he wanted to stage a military coup, or to restore the "old" South Africa. The fight he claims was for agreement on a volkstaat. He claims, however, that he knew that military action would result in "an enormous bloodbath", and consequently sought to find a political solution. "I had enough capacity to occupy Northern Cape or Mpumalanga and then tell the ANC, 'We have the military might. We are prepared to talk about how we can fit in with your new South Africa. If you want to talk, we'll talk. If you want to fight, we'll fight.'" In late 1993 several acts of sabotage were carried out by Viljoen's men, as a way of sending a message to the ANC.103

In March 1994, Viljoen deployed 3 000 of his men to Bophuthatswana to help the collapsing Mangope regime, ostensibly to tackle MK actions in the homeland. Everything went smoothly, until a large AWB contingent arrived, prompting a mutiny in the Bophuthatswana army, which then refused to hand over any weapons to Viljoen's men. The debacle in Mmabatho was, Viljoen claims, a turning point. He decided on that day that he would register his party for the April elections. "I suddenly realised that I would find it very difficult to conduct a complicated military operation under these fluid circumstances without plunging the country into wholescale war. I wasn't prepared to do that".104

Although prohibited by law from being members of the AWB and other right wing paramilitary organisations, some SADF members are believed to have assisted right wing groups to acquire weapons and ammunition from military stores during the early 1990s.

Between April 1990 and September 1995, the SANDF suffered the loss of 1325 small arms (Padiachie, 2000).

While overt conflict based on racial divisions and right wing politics was consequently avoided, or at least isolated to extreme incidents during the negotiations, the challenge of integrating military structures that, in simplistic terms, had evolved in direct response to the apartheid system of ethnic and racial division, has persisted within the post-apartheid society.

Ethnicity, Racial Violence and Affirmative Action in the SANDF

I think there are lots and lots of tension with almost all the bases and they are often racial and ideological. When one thinks of the differences between a conventional army like the SADF and guerrilla armies with their images of liberation, there are totally different ideological commitments. It is amazing that there has not been more violence. There certainly has been a lot of discontent. One of the big lessons from other countries is that often integration was not often linked to disarmament - disarmament was not properly controlled - So for example in Mozambique it was a massive problem - that there was not a proper disarmament of ex-combatants.105

The potential for racial and ethnic conflict to plague the newly formed SANDF has been highlighted by a number of commentators. "Given the importance that the apartheid regime accorded ethnicity … the ethnic factor in the SANDF had an explosive potential" (Khanyile, 1997). SANDF brought together military formations that had their own unique ways of dealing with ethnic diversity. The armies of the former TBVC (Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei) states, for example, were largely ethnic battalions and ethnically homogeneous. The former non-statutory forces, on the other hand, had a mix of races and ethnic backgrounds. SADF units varied, with some ethnic and racial homogeneity, and almost always-white commanding officers. With integration it is possible that some elements may have felt alienated or disadvantaged (Khanyile, 1997). In addition, because race was the primary method of power control and "racism" justified and fed into apartheid structures, race today remains a powerful construct for ongoing conflict within the SANDF.

Another factor that was perceived as potential aggravating was that ethnic groups were not equally active in the liberation struggle. Some were more involved in political activities than military ones (Bekker, 1993).

Apartheid policies had reinforced both ethnic and racial polarities and their legacy fuelled the internecine conflict of the early 1990s. Much of the so-called "black on black" violence was described in terms of tribal and ethnic affiliation. The fight was depicted as a struggle between ANC-aligned Xhosas and IFP-aligned Zulus. Some interviewees from the VTP hostel report alleged that the conflict was more complex, however, and also reflected an extension of the conflict between those Zulus aligned with Inkatha and those aligned with the UDF in the KwaZulu-Natal region. Ethnic cleavages were reinforced by allegations and perceptions of tribal affiliations within the security forces that, in turn, fuelled ethnic polarisations (pivoting around the position of Zulus, and non-Zulus).106

The indiscriminate nature of the violence in Gauteng also led some analysts to see the political agendas and alliances that were then at play. "It was a select group of Zulus affiliated to a particular political party, the Inkatha Freedom Party, and … their violence was directed towards everybody and not just Xhosas and that this violence was the same as the violence perpetrated by the white right. The people behind both types of violence were the same. They were very senior army and police officers of the old apartheid state, men who had worked hard all their lives to stop the day of liberation" (Qwelane, 1997, p.13). The complexities of the violence cannot be reduced to a "simple tribal model" of South African politics.

In South Africa, non-racism has become the new moral high ground, in part due to the ANC leadership's decision to give priority to racial reconciliation and evidenced by the fact that the populace did not simply vote along racial or ethnic lines during the first democratic elections (Marks, 1998). This is not to say that race is not important or that people are no longer aware of ethnic differences. Similarly, non-racism could easily be destroyed by a rapidly changing society with scarce resources (Marks, 1998, p. 18). At the same time, an appeal to non-racism could lend to racist issues being swept aside, or "covered over". Consequently, an analysis of non-racism with the SANDF requires a complementary analysis of other structures of power and chains of command within the SANDF. Does it become "seniority" versus "footsoldiers"? Are there particular cleavages within military structures that fuel/curb other manifestations (e.g. racism) within the military? These questions must be borne in mind throughout the following sections.

Affirmative Action

Issues of representation and affirmative action policies have been seen as a potential source of conflict in the military. Although some effort has been made to address gender imbalances and concerns, affirmative action processes have focused on race. Addressing racial imbalances was perhaps the most visible measurement of transformation. This raised concerns in some quarters, however, that the process would benefit members from the guerrilla forces only and, to a lesser extent, those soldiers from the former TBVC forces. It would, according to this argument, do little for black members of the old South African Defence Force (SADF) and women who had been historically deprived of rightful opportunities (Zwane, 1995). Others were wary that affirmative action policies would lead to a decline in professional standards.

In 1991, all officers in the top-five salary scales of the Permanent Force (PF) were white. At lower levels of command, there were 25 blacks, 14 Indians, 123 coloureds and 7 191 white officers up to and including the rank of Colonel. In 1993, the most senior African army officer was a Colonel in the Chaplain's service. Change, while perceptibly slow has been visible. By 1995, 417 black personnel members from the non-statutory forces held ranks above Major. By 1997 this number had increased to 467, and it included two (of 11) Lt. Generals, 6 (of 46) Major-Generals, and 19 of 56 Brigadiers. Of the 2297 Colonels in the SANDF, only 164 came from MK or APLA backgrounds. In the middle ranks, by 1997, almost 900 Captains and 3616 Warrant Officers, Sergeants and Corporals were drawn from the non-statutory forces (NSF). By 1998 Non-Statutory Forces (NSF) personnel comprised 23% of uniformed SANDF personnel, but only 11% of personnel holding a rank above Major.

Issues of promotion and affirmative action continue to exacerbate, particularly in terms of relations between black and white officers, which tensions are described as "frequently tentative and brittle". Although some criticise the pace of transformation on this front, the increase in levels of representation are regarded by some commentators as "substantial", given the relatively short period of integration. With the process ongoing, levels of representivity will continue to improve (Frankel, 2000, pp. 88-91).

Despite these developments, issues of prejudice and discrimination continue to resonate at all levels. There are concerns that former NSF members are routinely regarded as inferior and that formal efforts "to promote understanding of multi-cultural diversity" have made little progress. "Racism does exist in the defence force. It manifests itself in many ways. Military culture is in crisis because there have not been exercises to build the much talked about one-army concept".107

Issues of racism, however, remain complex and contested. "Racial prejudice at the leadership level is not overt … racism has officially and miraculously vanished, yet most behaviour and institutional transactions contain subtle racial subtexts that pervade the whole military network." The situation is most acute in the lower ranks, where "basic, grassroots race relations are still, in the last analysis, somewhat cold, formal and largely lacking in camaraderie" (Frankel, 2000, pp. 92 - 94).

The most dramatic manifestations of racism in the SANDF have been:

The Tempe Military Base Incident

Although represented as extreme cases, racial tensions and frustrations have, on occasion, boiled over into violent confrontation. In September 1999, a junior black SANDF member "went on the rampage", killing seven white officers at the 1st South African Infantry Battalion's Tempe bases in Bloemfontein, before turning the gun on himself. As a consequence, in November 1999 Minister of Defence, Patrick (Mosiua) Lekota, announced the formation of a four-person Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into Transformation in the SANDF.

The Committee was tasked with:

  1. identifying factors that may have contributed to the Tempe shootings;
  2. establishing whether similar tensions were to be found at other SANDF bases;
  3. investigating the language policy of the SANDF;
  4. investigating the impact of affirmative action and representative in the force;
  5. determining the extent to which racism, discrimination and political or sectarian tensions hampered cohesion in the SANDF (Independent Committee of Inquiry, 2000, p. 5).

In addition, the inquiry would propose measures to improve discipline and morale and ways to manage tensions arising from cultural diversity within the SANDF.

According to an interim report published in September 2000 on the Tempe shootings, South Africa's armed forces are riddled with racism, starved of funds and its soldiers are demoralised. The report lists harassment, assault, intimidating behaviour towards black troops, indifference from white officers, abusive language, discrimination and poor accommodation as issues needing to be addressed. The report notes that there is still differentiation between members of the former apartheid army and liberation fighters.

During the second week of hearings in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, the provincial chairperson of the South African Security Force Union, Captain Madoda Nofemele, addressed the inquiry. He claimed that black members of the SANDF were treated like "animals and their voice was not important" in the provincial military. He alleged that black members do not enjoy the same privileges available to their white counterparts.108

The Committee's report, An Analysis of Progress with Transformation in the Defence Force: Findings and Recommendations of the Ministerial Committee (Setai Commission), released in July 2001, called for "a comprehensive review of the Transformation process" (Setai Commission, 2001, p.103). It highlighted wide-ranging instances of racism, nepotism and a lack of affirmative action within the SANDF, pointing to the institutional culture and listing different forms of racism practised in the SANDF, including: "outright abusive language, failure to empower people and attempts to reduce their job responsibilities. Harassment, such as disciplinary actions against black members and going through with the process or leaving it in abeyance, thus leaving a member in limbo for an indefinite period was another way in which discrimination was practised" (Setai Commission, 2001, pp63 - 67).

Not only did the Setai Commission recommend a number of amendments to training policies and practice; the possible closure of the Lohatla Army Battle School; a review of the language policy of the SANDF; and the review of a number of personnel and administrative issues, it also recommended a comprehensive review of the transformation process (Setai Commission, 2001).

In 2000, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), while noting that the reform of the SANDF was ongoing, alleged that there had been allegations of continued racism in the force. In addition, it noted a range of other compounding and aggravating factors, namely that morale had been lowered by financial constraints and that training had been severely restricted by high oil prices. The institute also doubted the economic feasibility of the Defence Renewal arms-procurement plan for combat aircraft and ships. Using information gleaned from the interim Setai Commission's report, the IISS alleged that the SANDF was still struggling to adapt to a non-racial post-apartheid order. "Racism remains all-pervasive, morale is rock bottom and the absorption of former fighters from as many as nine different forces is creating confusion and division". The IISS further claimed that the South African National Defence Force couldn't be credited with much fighting capability.109

The SANDF reacted strongly, with the chief of Defence Corporate Communication, Major General L.C. Pepani, stating that it was irresponsible for IISS to make sweeping generalisations about the state of discipline and morale in the SANDF on the basis of the interim findings of a Commission. "It is unfair in the extreme to judge an organisation of the size or complexity of the DOD on the basis of an interim report".110

Responding to the allegations that the SANDF was struggling to adapt to the post-apartheid order, that racism and ill discipline was rife and that morale was rock-bottom, Pepani, pointed out that:

When looking at the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), it is all too easy to forget that as an organisation it is a microcosm of the larger South African society and as such tends to be reflective of this society. It is also all too easy to forget six years later the miracle of integrating seven hostile forces into a single unified military organisation. This has never been done before and is recognised internationally as a world-first achievement. It is naive in the extreme to have believed that this could have been done without some teething problems. It is unfair and unprofessional to highlight only the few negative incidents and ignore completely the other side of the coin.

Pepani pointed to various actions and interventions taken to address some of these problems:

Immediately after the start of integration, the SANDF initiated psychological integration programmes and cultural diversity programmes among others, in order to facilitate the smooth transition and transformation of the organisation. The SANDF is one of the few organisations in our country that has continued to build upon these programmes. As one example, every member, both civilian and military, has signed a Code of Conduct committing themselves to a higher order of behaviour.
In addition, the Minister of Defence and the command structure of the entire Department of Defence have made it abundantly clear that ill discipline, racism or any other irregular behaviour will not be tolerated, condoned or concealed. As evidence of this commitment the Minister appointed the Setai Commission to investigate all aspects pertaining to racism and ill treatment of members of the DOD. The SANDF is a dynamic organisation, prepared to apply lessons it has learned from its own shortcomings and should be recognised as such.111

In addition to the Ministerial Committee, Defence Minister Lekota initiated a "personal" probe into the grievances of ordinary soldiers. However, this was not well received by opposition parties and Defence Force personnel, who argued that Lekota ran the risk of pre-empting the findings of the Ministerial Committee.112 New National Party (NNP) official Hennie Smit, for example, accused Lekota of creating more tension in the SANDF with some of his pronouncements on his tours of military bases. He claimed that the NNP supported affirmative action, provided that expertise and skill were not marginalised, and the composition of the staff at certain bases reflected the composition of that specific region or province.113

Lekota subsequently embarked on a programme of visits to military bases after the killing of Major Pieter van As at 7SA Infantry Battalion in Phalaborwa. Van As had allegedly been shot dead by a black fellow officer at the base.114 The suspect, a 29-year-old platoon commander, later surrendered to the police and handed over an R4 rifle. The suspect had been chosen as the best platoon commander during an exercise in KwaZulu-Natal.115

While ongoing incidents of overt racism remain problematic, there are other, related, manifestations that also pervade daily life in the SANDF. According to one observer, servicemen and women are disgruntled because of three factors: racism, the abuse of power by certain superiors, and a lack of discipline shown by both superiors and subordinates. Some of the complaints Lekota heard from soldiers during his visits to Phalaborwa, Pietersburg and Nelspruit do not, however, neatly fit into these categories. These include long delays in the issue of medals, certificates and other qualifications, and allegations that some officers cover up the illegal activities of colleagues, and the tendency of commanders to engage in "sunshine reporting" - describing only those positive aspects they think their superiors want to hear. Lekota's inquiries found that black troops were being called "kaffirs" and "baboons"; that troops, white and black, were often given the choice between a common assault and a "DD1" charge sheet after an alleged disciplinary offence; and that some monies owed to troops had gone missing (Engelbrecht, 2000).

In many instances the problem is, or is perceived as, bi-polar, between white and black members of personnel, and this takes on an inter-racial dimension. "Racism on both sides is far from dead and particularly pronounced, it seems, the farther one moves down the organisational hierarchy" (Frankel, 2000, p. 93). In addition to issues of rank, racism is not confined to tensions between black and white soldiers but incorporates friction across a wide spectrum, including hostility between coloureds and Indians and blacks. It can also have inter-ethnic dimensions. Minister Lekota, for example, is on record as saying that "an African will discriminate against another African from a different tribal group or even from a different province" (Laurence, 2000). Statements of this nature may reflect certain divisions, but they simultaneously reinforce these divisions too.

These prejudices, both overt and latent, compound the difficulties of forging a new national defence force and are aggravated by the ongoing predominance of whites at managerial level. This contributes to unrealised expectations and frustrations within the lower, predominantly black ranks (Laurence, 2000).

The government's probe also reflects the developing official focus and attention given to issues of race, spearheaded by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). During 2000, Dr Barney Pityana, the SAHRC's erstwhile chairperson warned that the Commission would be forced to take action if the government did nothing to address racism in the military.116 The SAHRC had received numerous complaints of human rights violations from the military and in the wake of the Tempe incident urged the Minister of Defence to establish a judicial inquiry into what it felt were "deep-seated and systemic problems in the SANDF". The SAHRC subsequently received a detailed briefing from General Nyanda and also met with Minister Lekota to discuss the problems. General Nyanda undertook to personally supervise the handling of these complaints. The SAHRC also participated in a workshop for senior officials in November 1999, and has offered to support further human rights training.117

Issues of race and racism remain at the cutting edge of SANDF's ongoing transformation, and have become increasingly acute in the context of the incomplete rationalisation process. In June 2001, it was reported that a sample survey of 2 600 soldiers showed that 70 % of blacks and 50 % of whites believed that there was racial tension in the SANDF compared to 60 % of black soldiers and 35 % of white soldiers three years earlier. Only 28 % felt that there were fair and equal opportunities for all race groups in the SANDF.118

The situation within the SANDF is not uniform, and concerns regarding racism do not necessarily translate into a pessimistic attitude about the future. Although there are significant levels of dissatisfaction amongst the lower levels of former MK and APLA cadres, which is cause for concern, NSF members, who "remain the drivers of organisational change", are more positive about the future than their SADF colleagues. Most NSF members believe the situation in the SANDF is satisfactory or improving. One in six do not agree (Frankel, 2000, pp. 94 - 95).

Gender Violence in the SANDF

Violence against women can be defined as "any act of abuse perpetuated against women, intended or unintended, of verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual or physical form, which threatens to undermine the health and well being of the person" (Women's Health Project, 1995, p.68). This definition is broad enough to include acts that range from obscene phone calls through to rape-murder, or forced removals and the denial of land, housing and water but also differs, in frequency and type, from the violence that men experience (Vetten, 1997). As such, it is generally accepted that violence against women is "endemic" in South African society (Vogelman & Eagle, 1991).

The transition in South Africa has had major implications for women generally. In terms of the military, South African women have a history of involvement in the SADF, and in armed formations of the liberation movements. Women from all these formations (SADF, MK and APLA) claim that they were subjected to systematic discrimination (Cock, 1991).

Prior to the April 1994 elections, and under the auspices of the Transitional Executive Council's (TEC) Sub-Council on Defence and the Joint Military Co-ordinating Council (JMCC), the various military formations that were to integrate into the new SANDF embarked on a process of planning and policy formulation. A number of working groups were set up to deal with a wide range of different issues, with one group tasked with determining how women would fit into a future SANDF. The aim of the work group, which consisted of female representatives from both the statutory and non-statutory forces, was to foster gender sensitivity in all aspects of evolving policy affecting the SANDF and, in particular, to tackle concerns regarding discrimination (Molekane, 1996). Brigadier Jackie Sedibe, who was appointed to oversee the implementation of the SANDF's policies concerning the treatment of women, subsequently became the first woman in the military to be promoted to the rank of Major-General.

This policy-formulation process opened opportunities that had previously been closed to women in the defence force. The Command Council of the SANDF, for example, has accepted that there should be broad representation of women at all levels of the command and staff hierarchy, and that SANDF personnel should be sensitised to gender issues. In the late 1970s, women made up 7% of the total armed forces. By the late 1990s this had increased to 17%. In addition, women constituted about a quarter of the 2068 officers over the rank of Major (Frankel, 2000, pp. 128 - 131).

Despite these developments there remain a number of institutional obstacles and attitudes that limit developments. They underscore the importance of realising the practical implementation of new policy objectives, including the:

The SANDF now prohibits any form of discrimination against women employed in either the permanent or the part-time components of the SANDF. Women are free to choose whether they want to be employed in infrastructure posts, support services, or combat positions, or to undertake foreign affairs duties as military attach‚s. Women are an integral component of these developments, and participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of gender-sensitive policies and programmes. Importantly, in gender violence, sexual harassment, abuse of power and victimisation are now regarded as offences and are punishable under the new Military Disciplinary Code (MDC).

The need for new legislation about gender-related issues testifies not only to the broader constitutional concerns regarding equality; it also highlights the pivotal role that the military played in creating a macho and militarised masculine identity. Indeed, gender issues within the military (and a militarised society more generally) relate as much to masculinity as to femininity. The links between male identity and violence have been explored through other institutions, such as gangs and prisons.119 A similar study in relation to the SANDF is recommended.

Gender-based violence within the SANDF and the families of military employees continues to manifest itself. Many women remain dependent, vulnerable or both. The extent and content of the problem, however, is unclear. Available literature is limited and very little research has focused specifically on the experiences of female military employees. One study that examined the experiences of female non-commissioned officers separated from their families, found that domestic violence could be related to the pressures arising from deployment. This study found that female SANDF employees were subject to abuse from husbands and boyfriends who are not employed in the SANDF (Pillay, 1999). Couples attached to the South African Navy (SAN) also reported numerous cases of domestic violence. Research conducted here, found that violent incidents often followed the return of male SAN employees from sea, as part of their attempt to reassert their dominance in the family hierarchy (Van Breda, 1997a).

In-depth interviews with serving women-soldiers from across the service arms (the Army, Medical Services, Air Force and Navy) and from the different races, revealed that half had experienced some kind of sexual harassment and more than a third identified sexual harassment as an ongoing phenomenon. Interestingly enough, former members of MK and APLA experienced the highest levels of sexual harassment while interviewees who had joined the SANDF directly, experienced the lowest levels (Yael Weiss Bar-Ner, 1998).

Within the SANDF, military experience and race continue to be the most important factors shaping gender issues. Research conducted in 1998 found that very few women respondents experienced the transition into the SANDF in a positive manner, and that Africans and former NSF members were more likely to have negative experiences of the integration process. "Some of them felt that political, racial and gender stereotypes over-shadowed their professionalism and personalities" (Yael Weiss Bar-Ner, 1998, p. 48).

Despite these findings, sexual harassment has not surfaced officially as a major concern in the SANDF. This may reflect the failure of the Department of Defence to develop and adopt a clear-cut policy on what constitutes sexual or gender harassment (Heinecken, 2000b, p. 23). Author interviews with former and present SANDF members and a scan of press reports from 1994 to 2000 also failed to uncover incidents of this nature. This raises concerns that the problem of gender violence and harassment remains "under wraps" in general South African society. The SANDF still needs to come to grips with the broad South African context of the social construct of gender, the importance attached to gender differences and the cultural interpretations of gender, affecting masculinity as much as femininity (Heinecken, 2000b, p. 23).

"Gays" and Lesbians in the South African Military

Although the SANDF now has some of the most progressive policies in the world regarding the inclusion and equal treatment of lesbian and homosexual members, and joins such countries as Australia, Israel and the Netherlands in terms of integrating them, this has not always been the case.

Many lesbian and gay members of the South African Defence Force (SADF), Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA) paid with their lives either defending apartheid or in order to bring about a free and equal society (NCGLE, 1996). Their identity as lesbian and gay soldiers was, however, largely concealed to avoid discrimination, dismissal or in the case of the SADF, the label "diseased" and the consequent need for medical treatment.

In October 1999, several organisations co-published a report, entitled "The Aversion Report: Human rights abuses of gays and lesbians in the SADF by health workers during the apartheid era." The research built on reports cited in various submissions to the TRC, and documented the experience of homosexuals in the SADF and, in particular, abuses at the hands of health workers in the South African Medical Services (SAMS). The report accused SAMS staff of violating medical ethics at the behest of loyalty to the SADF, and the Department of Defence (van Zyl, de Gruchy, Lapinsky, Lewin, & Reid, 1999).

Further revelations identified a secret SADF project to "cure" homosexuals, by means of sex-change operations, medical torture and chemical castration. Psychiatrists, with the assistance of army chaplains, identified suspected homosexuals amongst new conscripts. Those who were identified were sent to Voortrekkerhoogte military hospital in Pretoria for screening and "rehabilitation". Those who could not be "cured" by drugs and psychiatry were given sex-changes or chemically castrated. Exactly how many were affected is unclear, although media reports claim that about 50 sex-change operations were performed annually between 1971 and 1989.120

In 2001, the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project called on the Minister of Defence to appoint a judicial inquiry into human rights abuses against gays and lesbians in the [old] SADF, claiming: "prima facie evidence exists that indicates that lesbian and gay members of the SADF were subjected to physical and psychological torture, experimentation and general maltreatment, including aversion therapy and chemical castration."121 In his response, the Minister of Defence, while acknowledging that such prima facie evidence exists, felt that there was no need for a judicial inquiry. "The process should rather be to identify the individuals concerned and to prosecute them".122 The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project continues to collect relevant information in this regard. No prosecutions have been forthcoming as yet.

Although "gays and lesbians have integrated as well as women … and gay and lesbian rights are being taken seriously by the SANDF, homophobia within the military remains prevalent" according to the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, a non-governmental organisation that is represented on the SANDF's advisory board for affirmative action and gender equality. An internal survey of the SANDF personnel's views, conducted during July/August 2000 by the SANDF's Chief Directorate for Equal Opportunities found that, at best, the issue of the integration of gays and lesbians into the SANDF is divisive, and at worst, it is beset by widespread homophobia within the SANDF. Almost half (46.9%) of the survey respondents, for example, felt that the integration of gays and lesbians to the SANDF would lead to a loss of military effectiveness. Over 4 in 10 (42.6%) agreed that their presence in the military undermines social cohesion, and 42.7% said they would have a problem if their commanding officer were homosexual.123

The Equality Project reports that, while there are still some forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians, they have not received reports of explicitly violent incidents perpetrated against gays and lesbians in the SANDF.

It seems that gays and lesbians have integrated well from their perspective. However, from the study recently completed one may conclude that from the perspective of "straight" people, gays and lesbians have not integrated well.124

Prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the SANDF

Sub-Saharan Africa carries the greatest burden of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. It was estimated that 28-million people in sub-Saharan Africa would have the disease by the end of the year 2001.125 South Africa alone has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the world, with more than 1500 infections occurring daily (Heinecken, 2000a, p. 13) and an estimated five million people living with the disease (Taitz, 2001).126 From 1990 to 1999, HIV prevalence amongst pregnant women rose from 0.7% to 22.4% (Govender, 2001).127 According to Professor Hoosen Coovadia the situation is particularly problematic in South Africa, as "AIDS hit in the midst of a complex political transition and society was just not stable enough to deal with it".128

Throughout the world military personnel are considered a high-risk group for HIV infection and transmission, owing to a range of factors, including age, peer pressure and the tendency of military personnel to take risks and to be absent from home for lengthy periods (Heinecken, 2000a, p. 14). At present there are no official figures for HIV/AIDS prevalence in the SANDF, although elsewhere in the region (i.e. Namibia), it is known that HIV/AIDS is the major killer of military personnel. Media speculate HIV/AIDS rates within the military to be from 40 % to 90 % (Heinecken, 2000a, p. 14). However, in August 2001, during a SANDF campaign to address sexual behaviour within the armed forces, the Surgeon General, Lieutenant-General Rinus Janse van Rensburg, is reported to have estimated the HIV incidence in the SANDF at 17 %. The Deputy Defence Minister, Nozizwe Madlala Routledge, has also indicated that the rates may be lower than that in general society.129

Under South Africa's Constitution, mandatory screening is likely to be deemed unconstitutional and efforts to introduce it are unlikely. Proposals to make HIV/AIDS a notifiable disease have not been pursued. Moreover, "there is apparently a reluctance to test … because it is feared that that there might be a disproportionately high incidence of HIV amongst former MK cadres who might have been exposed to the disease when based outside of South Africa before 1994" (Mills, 2000, p. 71). Disclosures of HIV/AIDS prevalence in the SANDF could, therefore, have racial and political ramifications. The stigma that attaches to HIV status compounds the situation. It is expected that high proportions of SANDF members are HIV positive, which poses a particular challenge for the military establishment. Deputy Defence Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge believes the disease could cause large-scale disruption and could cripple any defence force. Attempts to instil responsible attitudes towards sexual behaviour are viewed as essential in light of the SANDF's operational requirements, and its international peacekeeping obligations.130 This is particularly important in light of the links between sexuality, masculinity and machismo; identity qualities that a militarised environment may well fuel.

The relationship between HIV/AIDS and violence has not been subjected to any meaningful scrutiny within the SANDF, or society more generally. While concerns regarding the impact of HIV/AIDS on the state's ability to combat crime have been raised,131 as have the broader implications of "Age and Aids" as significant contributory factors to the predicted growth in the crime rate,132 little attention has been paid to how HIV/AIDS itself can be an aggravating factor amongst those predicated towards using violence for criminal (and/or personal) reasons (Schonteich, 2000).

HIV and AIDS may also help to explain the seemingly increasing number of deaths in the SANDF.

The high death rates in the SANDF may relate to AIDS. There are however no quantifiable figures. No research has been done. It is only an assumption that there is a high prevalence rate. Then again this would not be unique to this "sector". It will not be any different to the general population in South Africa, and as we know AIDS in South Africa is high. The same may be true of suicide rates, which may also be high in the SANDF.133

Suicides in the SANDF

Suicide is another form of violence that affects the SANDF. According to SANDF media liaison officer Major Fanus Pretorius, "suicide is accepted as a common phenomenon in defence forces around the world"134 and as such can be regarded as a possible by-product of the military experience.

Cumulative suicide rates before 1990 are difficult to come by. However, during 1986, at the height of South Africa's counter-insurgency war, 453 SADF members committed, or attempted to commit, suicide (Human Awareness Programme, 1987). Although this figure may reflect the problems arising from reliance on a conscript army in a war situation, suicide continues to plague the SANDF in the post-1994 dispensation.

Between 1994 and March 2000, almost 300 members of the SANDF committed suicide.135 Statistics provided by the military reveal that in 1999 alone, an average of four soldiers took their lives every month. Of these, a large number are believed to have been members of the former liberation armies. Statistics provided by the military for the purposes of this report show that there were 2 040 suicides and attempted suicides in the army between 1990 and 2001. Of these 433 were suicides.136

A report in the Sunday Times (8 October 2000) claimed that "the level of suicide is high" in the SANDF, and argued that these statistics may be the "tip of the iceberg", suggesting that suicide figures were, in fact, higher than the SANDF admitted.137 Between April 2000 and March 2001, a further 48 SANDF soldiers committed or attempted to commit suicide (South Africa, Department of Defence, Annual Report, 2000 - 2001).

Despite unprecedented access to information from the military regarding suicides, our insight into the suicide situation, as with so many other areas of the military, remains largely speculative. Access to information (especially with regard to the apartheid past) has been severely hampered by the destruction of documents, and a failure to audit what still exists.

Research and the Destruction of Apartheid Era Documents

The destruction of public records, and in particular records of the apartheid state's "security apparatus" was an important feature of the transition process between 1990 and 1994. During this period, the state engaged in a large-scale sanitation of its archival documents in order to prevent "certain information from getting into the hands of a future democratic government" (Harris, 2001, p.30). The Harms and Goldstone Commissions, and the Goniwe inquest and later, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), revealed substantial evidence of systematic destruction of records.138

This impacted substantially on the work of the TRC as it attempted to establish the causes, nature and extent of gross human rights violations committed in South Africa between 1960 and 1994. One of the TRC's specific mandates was "to determine what articles have been destroyed by any person in order to conceal violations of human rights or acts associated with a political objective".139 In order to fulfil this mandate, the TRC concentrated its energies on the activities of the security establishment, having determined through preliminary research that many instructions for the systematic destruction of public records originated there. It found, for example, that in 1984, the National Intelligence Service under authority of the State President updated guidelines for destruction. These guidelines were rigorously implemented within the security establishment, particularly in the structures of the NSMS, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the Security Police and the SADF.140 Evidence suggests that substantial volumes of SADF records were destroyed, as were the records generated by bodies related to the SADF, such as the SWAFT, the joint South African / Namibian force operating in pre-independent Namibia.

The 1989 Harms Commission of Enquiry into Certain Alleged Irregularities revealed that all the CCB records had either been destroyed or illegally removed. Furthermore, all the records of Koevoet, the notorious police counter-insurgency unit that operated out of Namibia, were reported as having disappeared in transit from Namibia to Pretoria (Harris, 2000, p. 38).

In 1990, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) issued new guidelines for record destruction, which required the destruction of paper-based records unless there were very good reasons for their retention. In addition, documentation of covert operations was to be categorised according to sensitivity- and security-relevance criteria. The most sensitive documentation was to be removed from the electronic information retrieval system. Guidelines issued in February 1992 made it clear that one of the purposes of this exercise was to sanitize the image of both the government and the NIS in a new political environment.141 In a six-month to eight-month period in 1993, NIS headquarters alone destroyed approximately 44 tons of paper and microfilm records, using the furnaces of the parastatal Iron & Steel Corporation (ISCOR), amongst other facilities.142

The TRC's report suggests that many operatives took this as an opportunity to "clean up" their offices, irrespective of the guidelines and that systematic destruction continued until late in 1994, many of the surviving minutes of chief directorate, directorate, and divisional meetings, and most administrative records, covering South Africa's most violent period from 1989 to 1994, being destroyed.143 Thus, it is believed, very little pre-1990 material survives in the paper-based, microform, and the electronic systems, and what has endured from the period 1990 to 1994 has been sanitised. Minutes of senior management meetings covering the period 1980 to 1994 remain intact however.144

As early as 1990, NIS was made the official custodian of NSMS records. In November 1991 a circular instruction was sent by the NIS to all government departments, requiring them to transfer all NSMS-related records into their custody. In 1993 the head of the Security Secretariat maintained that a full set of NSMS records was being preserved and only duplicate copies were being destroyed. However, the TRC was later informed that the guidelines for destruction were fully implemented, resulting in numerous and substantial gaps in the records of the NSMS. It was thus apparent that, while the stated purpose of the transfer was to enable the Security Secretariat to assemble a complete set of these records, it was primarily designed to facilitate systematic sanitisation (Harris, 2000, p. 40).

A year after the 1991 circular, all SADF structures were informed that records were to be destroyed only with the express approval of Lieutenant General Steyn, the then SADF Chief of Staff, who had been appointed to investigate SADF intelligence activities. However, the Chief of the SADF effectively repealed Steyn's instruction and two joint teams consisting of personnel from the Inspector General and Counter Intelligence visited all units and identified records for destruction.145

During the TRC investigations into this process, the required destruction certificates were not found. This forced the TRC to make sense of the impact of the destruction exercise through probes into what it regarded as "hot spots". These "hot spots" included: the DST, CCB, the Directorate of Covert Collection (DCC), Contra-Mobilisation Projects (COMOPS), Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB), NSMS, and the former defence forces of Transkei, Bophutatswana, Venda and Ciskei.146 Most, if not all, of these entities were crucial components of the apartheid states' covert military apparatus.

While three discrete file groups were identified at the SANDF archives,147 significant gaps were also identified. No records from the DST148 or the DCC were included, and only a few records of the COMOPS could be found.149 Records relating to the CCB could also not be found and very little NSMS documentation managed by the SADF survived. The only significant collection comprises 54 boxes of files (now in the SANDF Archives) generated in the Eastern Cape and preserved for use in the inquest conducted into the murder of political activist, Mathew Goniwe. However, some NSMS documentation was identified in the Military Intelligence file groups described above (Harris, 2000, p. 44).

A task group authorised by the Chief of the SANDF in June 1994 managed the acquisition by the SANDF Archives of all extant records of the former defence forces of Transkei, Bophutatswana, Venda and Ciskei. Apart from the 1 544 boxes of files secured from the Bophutatswana Defence Force, relatively insignificant documentary traces were secured: eighty boxes of files from the Transkei, 115 from the Ciskei, and 331 from Venda. Clearly, then, huge volumes of records generated by the defence forces of the former homelands had also been destroyed (Harris, 2000, p. 44).

The limitations of these investigations were exposed dramatically in September 2001, when the Johannesburg-based non-governmental organisation, South African History Archive (SAHA) put in a Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000) request for a list of all extant apartheid-era Military Intelligence records. Surprisingly, in addition to the three that the TRC had been told about and given access to, SAHA was provided with a list of 42 file groups.150 The military were now, in effect, admitting that they had thousands of files that had not been made available to the TRC. While, the Minister of Defence has launched an inquiry into the allegations that the SANDF hid key apartheid-era information from the TRC, the SANDF immediately responded by asserting that it "did not conceal records … neither did [it] fail to disclose the availability of other file groups" (Wa Ka Ngobeni, 2001).151 This discovery, nevertheless, raises the possibility that broader TRC investigations were hindered, if not obstructed, by the security establishment. It has also "raised the possibility that the TRC may have been wrong in some of its conclusions" (Villa-Vicencio, quoted in Gordin, 2001).152 At the time of writing, the actual documents which these recently discovered lists refer to have not yet been accessed and analysed in terms of the military's past role in violence.

Conclusion

The process of eliminating violence from South African society has been, and remains, a critical challenge for the consolidation of democracy. Eight years after the introduction of electoral democracy, South Africa remains a violent society, with levels of violent crime being particularly high.

In many respects, developments within, and problems associated with, the SANDF transformation process reflect issues affecting broader South African society, touching on a diverse range of issues, including racial intolerance, crime, domestic and gender violence and HIV/AIDS. Although contemporary detailed research and empirical data on the SANDF in relation to these issues is not available, certain connections can be drawn. It is probably safe to assume, for example, that HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are at least comparable with statistics on national prevalence. The introduction of a comprehensive policy for the SANDF to address violence against women and children is likely to reflect, at least concerns about, high levels of abuse involving SANDF personnel (as either victims or perpetrators).153 The same can be said of a number of other SANDF policies, including those relating to the prevention and elimination of racism in the Department of Defence; to problems of crime, with the adoption of a Strategy to Combat Criminality (within the DOD); and, the development of the Masibambisane Project, the HIV Prevention Project of the DOD.154

As with other components of South African society, the SANDF is not immune to violence within its ranks or to the need to deal with this challenge. Although our knowledge of the military's involvement in, and relationship to, various manifestations of violence is limited, it is evident that both the levels and the nature of violence affecting the military have changed to a large extent. The military is no longer used, for example, as an instrument of repressive policies, domestically or further afield. In the post-apartheid dispensation civilian controls and parliamentary oversight are complemented by constitutional protections and the introduction of progressive policies designed to tackle problems such as domestic violence.

There has been a progressive move towards the normalisation of civil-military relations. This does not mean, however, that issues of violence and their related problems have been removed. As the VTP series suggests, the very civil norm today is one of violence. While violent incidents and abuses involving SANDF members continue, these tend to be localised and particular, with the possible exception of race-based incidents, which remain a cause of widespread concern. Serious incidents of this nature, however, have been isolated, and have received wide publicity and condemnation from all quarters.

Military culture is by definition violent - both in terms of its end goal, and in the way its command structures operate. Perhaps this is a factor contributing towards the difficulty of unearthing details about the military's role in violence, both past and present. It is a forum for sanctioned social violence and this blurs - at a moral level - the consequences and impact of any such actions. Both the SADF (and its TBVC allies) and the liberation movements argued that the use of violence to further their particular cause was legitimate. The resultant militarisation of the state and civil society fed an evolving culture of violence that gripped South Africa during the late 1970s, onwards.

Further research on the history and experiences of the SADF and liberation movements is necessary. Our insight into these structures and how they impact on the ongoing transformation of the SANDF remains limited, owing largely to the secretive nature and general lack of transparency of these entities. Consequently, many aspects of South Africa's history of conflict remain clouded in mystery.

As the TRC indicated, "the destruction of state documentation probably did more to undermine the investigative work of the Commission than any other single factor" (TRC, 1998, Volume 1, Chapter 8, Paragraphs 1 - 106). This, together with the attitude of the SADF/SANDF, made the work of the TRC extremely difficult and has made problematic any historical analysis of the exact extent to which the military forces were involved in "illegal" violence and any assessment of the changing nature of violence within the newly created SANDF.

Valdez (1998) suggests that for a state to deal successfully with its authoritarian past, four components must be addressed. It needs to "investigate and make the facts known (truth); put on trial and punish the guilty (justice); redress the moral and physical damage caused (reparation); and, eradicate from the security forces those known to have committed, ordered or tolerated the commission of abuses" (p. 53). Campbell (2000) explains that "South Africa was somewhat successful at achieving truth and much less successful at the other three components" (Campbell, 2000). With respect to the military specifically, it may be argued that the TRC was not very successful in addressing "the truth" or in "eradicating from the security forces those known to have committed, ordered or tolerated the commission of abuses". It must, however, be acknowledged that the TRC was faced with enormous constraints and was operating in the context of a negotiated compromise. It was never intended to act as a conduit for transformation of the bureaucracy and the military were barely affected by the process.

Many of the issues and legacies of transformation remain uncertain and indistinct, especially in terms of how they manifest themselves and are dealt with within the military. Ongoing transformation and rationalisation have created an evolving terrain for tension and conflict inside the SANDF. These issues also raise concerns about the numerous problems that accompany many ex-combatants.155

Despite ongoing problems, the achievements in building a new military, loyal to a democratic government are clear. In so doing, "the South African military has followed the path of extricating itself from power politics … (and) it has succeeded in emerging from the militarism of the last days of apartheid with a fair degree of social credibility". While white South Africans in general continue to feel that virtually all aspects of government control and service have deteriorated since 1994, survey results reflect the opposite for black respondents. A national survey (Rule, 2000) conducted in November 1999, for example, found that black respondents were twice as likely as whites to have trust in the SANDF, and half as likely to distrust them:

Institution Level of Trust Black White Coloured Indian Total
Defence Trust 62 27 57 50 57
Force Distrust 18 41 15 27 21
Table 2: Level of Trust (%) in Defence Force by Population Group

This is remarkable, considering that less than 10 years before, the military were regarded as a primary agent of apartheid repression.

Despite this positive development, a number of challenges continue to face the SANDF:

  1. Although the White Paper of Defence acknowledged it, very little attention has been given to the new broader understanding of "security" as envisaged by the international community after the Cold War and in response to the changing nature of conflict. This new conceptualisation of security, while continuing to include traditional military and political/ideological threats includes issues that affect the society at large, such as poverty, disease and overpopulation: economic and environmental issues. The White Paper thus, recognised that South Africa would not, at least, in the foreseeable future be confronted by external military aggression and conceives of South Africa's national security interests in terms of political, economic, social and matters, such as crime, unemployment, lack of housing and other social services and the proliferation of small arms. At the same time however, the White paper in an apparent contradiction subordinates its role in the alleviation of these risks as secondary. The challenge then is for the SANDF to find an appropriate balance between the two.
  2. Outstanding issues relating to the past of both the SADF and the armed wings of the liberation movements must be addressed. While very few former SADF members applied for amnesty, and the likelihood of prosecuting those who did not remains limited, it is important that this be pursued - if only as a deterrent against future human rights abuses. Prospects for a "new" amnesty process for the military do not auger well, although there is clearly a need for further introspection into the military's role in past abuses.156
  3. The TRC, although it was empowered to investigate human rights abuses committed outside the country, concentrated on the internal situation. In so doing, it diverted attention from some of the greatest abuses of human rights inflicted on by the South African state, in particular in neighbouring states (Ellis, 2000, p. 65). Addressing the past in the context of the SANDF's new regional role is imperative.
  4. The TRC made a number of recommendations with respect to the engagement of the SANDF in covert activities. In particular, the recommendation that the SANDF should not be entitled to engage in covert operations unless specifically authorised by the Minister of Defence and a minister of an unrelated portfolio has not been followed through, nor has the recommendation that the expenditure related to such activities be subjected to the same auditing process as in other ministries and departments.
  5. The TRC also recommended that all aspects of the Chemical and Biological programme should cease. At present there is no information as to whether this has happened.
  6. While "truth is truth; it is not social or institutional reform" (Ignatieff, 1997, p. 8). The long-term impact of the TRC on establishing professionalism in the SANDF needs to be further explored.155 Transformation remains the primary site of tension and conflict within the military. It also "remains the primary item on the military agenda. Yet there is little consensus as to what this means or implies" (Frankel, 2000, p. 142).

Notes

1 Because this report focuses on the military as a state institution, the liberation movements, including the African National Congress' Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and the Pan Africanist Congress' Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA) and their involvement in past forms of violence are not discussed. Rather, the emphasis is on tracking the continuities and changes in violence through the SADF's transformation into the SANDF.

2 This is not to suggest that violence no longer manifests between individuals within the SANDF (and as described below this clearly does occur), or in relation to the militarised culture that continues to pervade South African society beyond the confines of the new army. In keeping with the Violence & Transition project as a whole, it is the impact of such a transition (a transition away from systematic violations to a human rights-based culture) on contemporary forms of violence and identity, which informs this analysis.

3 For more detail on the destruction of documentation from this period, see the section below on "Research and the Destruction of Apartheid Era Documents".

4 The Violence and Transition Project (VTP) is an extensive research programme conducted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) into the nature and extent of violence during South Africa's transition from apartheid rule to democracy. The programme comprises a set of self-contained, but interrelated reports, which explore violence across the period 1980 - 2000 within key social loci and areas, including: Revenge Violence and Vigilantism; Foreigners (immigrants and refugees); Hostels and Hostel Residents; Ex-combatants; State Security Forces (police and military), and Taxi Violence.

5 See Appendix "A" for a chronology of some of the events of significance to the South African military.

6 In 1958-59 for example, R36 million was allocated for defence.

7 South African Institute of Race Relations, Annual Survey 1995/96, p. 87.

8 See: Potgieter, D.J. (Ed.). (1970). Standard Encyclopedia of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Nasou.

9 ibid.

10 For details see: South Africa. Department of Defence. Annual Report, 2000/2001; The SANDF has allegedly been involved in cases of corruption and / or physical violence in relation to the apprehension of migrants - both owning or lacking documents (cf. Harris, B., 2001). A Foreign Experience: Violence, Crime and Xenophobia during SA's Transition. Braamfontein: CSVR.).

11 Interview with the Minister of Defence. SALUT Vol. 7. No 9, September 2000.

12 Mthembu-Salter, G. Risky Business in Burundi. Mail & Guardian, 8 March 2002.

13 Friedman, H. Heading towards Operation Blunder? Mail & Guardian, 5 November 2001.

14 For details see: South Africa. Department of Defence. Annual Report, 2000/2001.

15 Quoted in, Crawford, N. (1995). The Domestic Sources and Consequences of Aggressive Foreign Policies: the Folly of South Africa's "Total Strategy".

16 For two years P.W. Botha retained the defence portfolio while still Prime Minister.

17 The extent of this influence is unclear, and should not necessarily be assumed - See Seegers A, 1996: 169.

18 Bell, T. TRC Deal with Military Allowed Truth to Slip Away. Sunday Independent, 11 November 2001.

19 See also: TRC, 1998, Volume 2, Chapter 6, Paragraphs 1 - 49.

20 South Africa. White Paper on the Planning Process of the South African Defence Force. 1989.

21 ibid.

22 For an overview of conservative vigilante forces during the 1980s, see Harris, B. (2001). As for violent crime, that's our daily bread: Vigilante violence during South Africa's period of transition. Braamfontein: CSVR.

23 Theology Exchange Programme. (c1988). Repression … Reform? a pamphlet. Athlone: Theology Exchange Programme.

24 For a more detailed insight see the TRC's special hearings into the workings of the SSC, http://www.truth.org.za/special/index.htm#ssch

25 See: The UDF - Transkei Course. c1984. University of Witwatersrand, Historical Papers A2665f.

26 See: Bodies of ANC Activists Exhumed. The Star 13 December 2001.

27 Quoted in SA Barometer Vol. 4 No. 6 April 13, 1990, p. 95.

28 The expanded role of the SANDF, in terms of civilian control and assistance measures (e.g. relief during the Mozambican floods, and externally-based peacekeeping responsibilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, reflects an interesting parallel with the political role of the SADF, albeit from a very different ideological position.

29 For a fuller explanation of the militarisation of South African society see: J. Cock and L. Nathan, (1989) War and Society: The Militarisation of South African society. Cape Town: David Philip.

30 Lt. Col. John J. McCuen was one of the United States of America's most prominent security theorists during the 1960s and 1970s. His main hypothesis as outlined in The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War. (London: Faber and Faber, 1966) centres on how opposition forces mobilise the populace in opposition to governments and how the state must therefore counter-organise and develop coherence of state institutions to co-ordinate action.

31 Dullah Omar, former Minister of Justice, Introduction to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, http://www.truth.org.za

32 See: NP submission to TRC, http://www.truth.org.za/hrvtrans/index.htm#SUBMISSIONS

33 See: TRC Party Political hearings, http://www.truth.org.za/special/party2/np2.htm

34 Interview with an official of the TRC's Amnesty Committee, 12 November 2001.

35 Khoisan, Z. (1998). High Crimes: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report Opens the Book on South Africa's Apartheid Era Abuses. Toward Freedom: Online Magazine December/January. http://www.towardfreedom.com/dec98/Khosian.Htm

36 See: http://www.truth.org.za/submit/sadf.htm

37 'Arrogant' SADF Angers Kasrils, Mail & Guardian, 25 October 1996.

38 See: http://www.truth.org.za/special/forces/sadf.htm

39 The TRC's five-volume report is often referred to as the "final report". It is in fact an interim report. The final report will be published during 2003, and will include additional information gleaned through the amnesty process that was only concluded in late 2001. Details of findings with respect to the thousands of submissions made to the Human Rights Violations Committee will also form part of this final report.

40 Bell, T. TRC Deal with Military Allowed Truth to Slip Away. Sunday Independent, 11 November 2001.

41 Brigadier Basson, attached to the South African Medical Services (of the SADF) was in charge of Project Coast. He was also P.W. Botha's cardiac surgeon.

42 South Africa. Department of Defence, 2000/2001 Annual Report, p. ix.

43 Southscan, Vol. 16 No. 12, 15 June 2001.

44 See Appendix 'B' for 'Principles of Transformation of the South African Military from 1996 White Paper.

45 See Also: Dlamini, S. (1991). Towards a New Defence Force in South Africa: The SADF and the Problems of Transition. Amsterdam: Dr. Govan Mbeki Fund, University of Amsterdam.

46 For a comprehensive overview of the military actors and security agreements that facilitated the South African transition, see: M. Shaw (1995). Negotiating Defence for a New South Africa, In: About Turn: The Transformation of the South African Military and Intelligence edited by Jakkie Cilliers and Markus Reichardt. Halfway House: Institute for Defence Policy; M. Shaw (1994). Biting the Bullet: Negotiating Democracy's Defence, In: The Small Miracle: South Africa's Negotiated Settlement, South African Review No. 7; P. Frankel (2000). Soldiers in a Storm: The armed forces in South Africa's Democratic Transition, Colorado: Westview Press.

47 For further research into the experiences of ex-combatants within contemporary South Africa, see Gear, S. (2002). Wishing Us Away: Challenges facing ex-combatants in the 'new' South Africa. Braamfontein: CSVR.

48 Ngqiyaza, B. Soldiers Battle Now is for Money. Business Day, 1 November 2001.

49 Donaldson, A. Ex-SA Soldiers "invade" Botswana. Sunday Times, 18 November 2001.

50 Author interview with J. Cock, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, May 2000.

51 Matisonn, J. Women Boo Pahad at Summit, Sunday Tribune, 11 August 2001.

52 Brummer S. Bigger Budget Slice for Arms. Mail & Guardian 22 February 2002.

53 Only about 14 000 members of the non-statutory forces cam forward for integration.

54 Minister of Defence. Reply to a Question in the National Assembly, 17 May 2000.

55 For details see: South Africa. Department of Defence. Annual Report, 2000 - 2001.

56 ibid.

57 Author interview with E. Knoesen, Equal Rights Project Co-ordinator, NCGLA, 19 November 2001.

58 ibid.

59 Address by the Minister of Defence, the Hon. Mosiuoa Lekota on the Occasion of the Defence Budget, National Assembly, 19 June 2001.

60 Author interview with E. Knoesen, Equal Rights Project Co-ordinator, NCGLA, 19 November 2001.

61 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993, Clause 226 (5).

62 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996, Clause 200 (1) and (2).

63 See Appendix for the White Paper's principles governing the transformation of the South African military.

64 South Africa. White Paper on Defence, May 1996, p. 13.

65 Cilliers,J. Push for Appropriate Rural Defence. Mail & Guardian, 18 May 2001.

66 The Commando issue is complex and contentious. According to Lt. Colonel H.J. Boshoff, the Chief of Joint Operations, there are many misperceptions about the commando system, which contribute to this complexity. He explains that while commandos are commonly associated with apartheid-era policing tactics and structures, there are in fact strict systems of control that regulate the remaining 186 units operating across the country (Telephonic communication - 17 May 2001).

67 See for example the case against three commando members in the Northern (now Limpopo) Province, who have been accused of assaulting an alleged housebreaker and "forcing him to eat his own faeces" (Commando's 'faeces' trial set for February. SAPA, 28 November 200).

68 South Africa. Department of Defence. Annual Report, 2000/2001, p. 8.

69 The Defence Bill, Chapter One, Section Two (a-g), http://www.gov.za/gazette/bills/2001/b60-01.pdf

70 Codes of Conduct Launched. SALUT Vol. 7. No 4, 2000, p. 36.

71 Violence a Big Threat to SA. Natal Mercury, 2 May 1995.

72 The Reported Serious Crime Situation in South Africa: January to September 2001, http://www.saps.org.za/8_crimeinfo/200112/report.htm

73 Smith, C. SA Children Live in Fear. Mail and Guardian, 14 September 2001.

74 For a more in-depth analysis of ex-combatant's involvement in crime, see Gear, S. (2002). Wishing Us Away: Challenges facing ex-combatants in the 'new' South Africa. Braamfontein: CSVR.

75 Report by the President of the ANC, Nelson Mandela, to the 50th National Conference of the African National Congress, Mafikeng, 16-20 December 1997. http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/conf/conference50/presaddress.html

76 An Axe, not a Broom, for the Spies. Mail & Guardian, 9 April 2001.

77 See: Kock, E., Stober, P. & Edmonds, M. Pretoria Fiddles while KwaZulu-Natal Burns. Mail & Guardian, 22 September 1995.

78 Leaking Another Pile of Baloney. Mail & Guardian, 12 June 1998.

79 Author interview with J. Cock, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, May 2000.

80 ibid.

81 See: Action Stop Farm Attacks. Transvaal Agricultural Union, http://www.rights2property.com; Moolman, C. J. (1998). Bloodstains on your Food, An investigation into Farm Attacks in South Africa. Pietersburg: University of the North; Moolman, C. J. Farm Attacks and the African Renaissance: Opposite Reactions to a Devastating European Culture, http://www.rights2property.com/PROF%20MOOLMAN%20FARM%20MURDERS%20BOOK/Default.htm

82 Mkhwanazi, S. More than 1000 Killed on Farms in Past Decade. The Star, 8 August 2001.

83 See: NICOC (1997). Intelligence and Status Reports: Attacks on Members of the Farming Community. Pretoria: Government Printer; NICOC (1998). Attacks on Members of the Farming Community. Status Report. Interdepartmental Report for the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee. Pretoria: Government Printer.

84 Farm Attacks - Offender Profiles, 2001, Institute for Human Rights and Criminal Justice Studies, Technikon South Africa (http://www.crimeinstitute.ac.za)

85 See: http://www.saps.gov.za/rural/inqfarm.htm

86 Minister of Defence. Reply to a Question in the National Assembly, 22 March 2000.

87 See The Citizen 21 November 2001; The Citizen 1 April 2001; The Citizen 29 October 2001.

88 Arrests for Stolen Guns. Sowetan, 14 August 2001.

89 The commando system was developed by the previous Apartheid government as a second line of rural defence against guerrillas of the African National Congress. It has been transformed as a form of protection against farm attacks under a 1997 'rural protection plan' that uses civilian commandos trained and armed by the SANDF.

90 Arenstein, J. Farm labourers speak out about abuse. African Eye News Service, 27 July 2000.

91 SANDF Foots Farmers' Defence Bill. Mail & Guardian, 22 October 1999.

92 Mulugeta, S. Pressing Their Claim to Land: S. African blacks seek return of family farms. Newsday, 28 August 2001.

93 Ka'Nkosi, S. Katorus Residents: 'Soldiers Terrorise Us'. Mail & Guardian, 18 May 2001.

94 See: Various annual review/reports of the Human Rights Commission (now Committee) of the period.

95 See: Minnaar, A. (1994). An Analysis of the Scope and Extent of Political Conflict in South Africa with Specific Reference to the Identification of High-Conflict Areas: a report to the Independent Electoral Commission. Pretoria.

96 Human Rights Commission (1993). Three Years of Destabilisation, Supplement to Special Report SR-13. Braamfontein: Human Rights Commission.

97 See for example, Amnesty International reports, Human Rights Watch reports, the South African Human Rights Committee reports and McGovern & Manby, (1994). South Africa: Half-Hearted Reform: The Official Response to the Rising Tide of Violence. London: Africa Watch.; Africa Watch (1991). The Killings in South Africa: The Role of the Security Forces and the Response of the State. London: Africa Watch.

98 See also: http://www.truth.org.za/final/2chap2.htm;
http://www.truth.org.za/submit/ANCTRUTH.HTM

99 Shocks from the Steyn Report. Mail & Guardian, 31 January 1997.

100 See: http://www.truth.org.za/special/forces/sadf.htm

101 Du Preez, M. Finger on the Trigger of War. Sunday Independent, 25 March 2001.

102 ibid.

103 ibid.

104 ibid.

105 Author interview with J. Cock, Department of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, May 2000.

106 Several hostel residents interviewed during the VTP research into violence at the hostels alleged that Zulu-speaking hostel residents had a good relationship with Zulu-speakers in both the police and the army operating in the township, but a bad relationship with security force members from other ethnic backgrounds. These ethnic affiliations, they claimed, also played themselves out within the surrounding communities. Cf. VTP hostel report.

107 Koopman, A. Racism Rife in Defence Force. The Star. 18 September 2000.

108 Ndiyane, E. Racism Claims in KZN Army Shocks Commission. Daily News, 21 February 2001.

109 Strategic Comments: In depth analysis of strategic issues from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Vol. 6 Issue 10 December 2000, http://www.iiss.org/stratcom/scindex.asp?5

110 SANDF Response to ISS Report, Department of Defence, Bulletin No. 14/01, 27 February 2001, http://www.mil.za/News&Events/Frame/Frame.htm

111 ibid.

112 Probe May Explode in Defence Minister's Face, Daily News 19 July 2000.

113 NNP: Lekota Sowing Tension in SANDF, 18 July 2000.

114 Probe May Explode in Defence Minister's Face, Daily News 19 July 2000.

115 De Wet, H. Major Shot Dead at Military Base. SAPA, 10 July 2000.

116 Probe May Explode in Defence Minister's Face, Daily News 19 July 2000.

117 See: http://www.sahrc.org.za/complaints_services.htm

118 Jordan, B. Soldiers get Gloomier about Racism. Sunday Times, 24 June 2001.

119 cf. Gear, S. (2002). Daai Ding: Sex, sexual violence and coercion in men's prisons. Braamfontein: CSVR.

120 Mutilation by the Military. Mail & Guardian, 28 July 2000.

121 NCGLE call on Minister of Defence for Judicial Inquiry into Human Rights Abuses, http://www.q.co.za/news/2000/08/000816-ncglesadfletter.htm

122 Author interview with E. Knoesen, Equal Rights Project Co-ordinator, NCGLA, 04 September 2001.

123 Chief Directorate: Equal Opportunities. Result of the Study on the Integration of Gays and Lesbians in the DOD. October 2001.

124 Author interview with E. Knoesen, Equal Rights Project Co-ordinator, NCGLA, 04 September 2001.

125 Beresford, D. The Aids Doomsday Book. Mail & Guardian, 30 November, 2001.

126 Taitz, L. From Despair to a Gleam of Hope. Sunday Times, 25 November 2001.

127 Govender, P. Here's how we can fight AIDS. Sunday Times, 25 November 2001.

128 Taitz, L. From Despair to a Gleam of Hope. Sunday Times, 25 November 2001.

129 Southscan, Vol. 16 No. 13, 29 June 2001.

130 Sexual Behaviour of Soldiers Must Change: SANDF. SAPA, 1 August 2001. http://www.bibim.com/anc/nw20010802/44.html

131 Input at CSVR Stratplan by Martin Schonteich, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, 22 February 2001.

132 Schonteich, M. (2000). Age and Aids: a Lethal Mix for South Africa's Crime Rate. In: HIV/AIDS: a Threat to the African Renaissance? Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, Occasional Papers, June.

133 Author interview with E. Knoesen, Equal Rights Project Co-ordinator, NCGLA, 19 November 2001.

134 300 Members of SANDF have Committed Suicide since 1994. Pretoria News, 28 March 2000.

135 ibid.

136 Data on SANDF suicide rates from 1990 to 2001, provided to the CSVR under the terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (Act No. 2 of 2000).

137 Racial Strife Rips Army Unity Apart, Sunday Times, 8 October 2000.

138 See: South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Final Report (Juta: Cape Town, 1998), Volume 1, p. 203, Paragraph 7).

139 See: South Africa. Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act (Act Number 34 of 1995): Section 4(d).

140 The updated guidelines were referenced as SP 2/8/1.

141 See: South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Final Report (Juta: Cape Town, 1998), Volume 1, Appendices 1, 2 and 3, pp. 237 - 243.

142 See: South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Final Report (Juta: Cape Town, 1998), Volume 1, Chapter 8, p. 219.

143 See: South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Final Report (Juta: Cape Town, 1998), Volume 1, Chapter 8, pp. 219 - 220, Paragraph 60.

144 Interview with V. Harris, Director, South African History Archives, 13 September 2001.

145 ibid.

146 ibid.

147 Group number fourteen, comprising 299 boxes of files covering the period 1977-1987; group number twenty-one, comprising 254 files covering the period 1975-1987; and group number thirty, comprising 529 boxes of files covering the period 1976-1996.

148 The DST was responsible for logistical, ordinance and other support for insurgency groupings in neighbouring states. These included Renamo in Mozambique, Unita in Angola, Super-Zapu in Zimbabwe and the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA).

149 Interview with V. Harris, Director, South African History Archives, 13 September 2001.

150 Interview with V. Harris, Director, South African History Archives, 13 September 2001.

151 Wa Ka Ngobeni, E. Lekota to Probe What is Fact and Fiction. Mail & Guardian, 19 October 2001.

152 Gordin, J. Access to Information Act Assists Recovery of 'Lost' SADF Records. Sunday Independent, 11 November 2001.

153 Author interview with E. Knoesen, Equal Rights Project Co-ordinator, NCGLA, 19 November 2001.

154 See for example, DOD Policy on Violence Against Women and Children, October 1999 and Department of Defence Instruction No PERS/12/99: Instruction on the Prevention and Elimination of Racism in the DOD.

155 Gear, S. (2002). Wishing Us Away: Challenges facing ex-combatants in the 'new' South Africa. Braamfontein: CSVR.

156 The recent arrests of former SADF members for their alleged involvement in the 1986 murder of six youths from Limpopo, as a result of a confession made by a former CCB agent, has again raised questions as to other undiclosed violations, and the motivation behind calls by former military leaders for an extended amnesty process. Long Arm of the Law, Seven alleged killers nabbed after 16 years - Soweto Sunday World, 8 September 2002.

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Theissen, G. & Hamber, B (1998). A State of Denial: White South Africans' Attitudes to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Indicator SA Vol. 15 No. 1 pp. 8 - 12.

Theology Exchange Programme. (c1988). Repression … Reform? a pamphlet. Athlone: Theology Exchange Programme.

Tomaselli, K. (1984). Adapt or Die-Militarization and the S.A. Media. Fuse February.

Tucker, B. & Scott, B. (eds.) (1992). South Africa: Prospects for Successful Transition. Cape Town: Juta.

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Appendix A: Chronology of Some Events Significant for the SA Military

Year/Month/Day Event
1910
May 31
Establishment of the Union of South Africa.
1912
January
Formation of the South African Native National Congress. [In 1923, the Congress changes its name to became the African National Congress (ANC).
1913 Creation of the Union Defence Force (which brought together the armed forces of the four colonies).
1915 South African forces occupy German South West Africa
1919 Union Parliament accepts mandate for South West Africa
1921
July
Communist Party of South Africa formed
1923 The South African Native National Congress changes its name to the African National Congress (ANC).
1948
May
(Herenigde) National Party under D. F. Malan secures majority vote in general election.
1955
June
The Freedom Charter adopted by the Congress of the People, declares that, "The police force and army shall be open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the people".
1956
August
ANC approves the Freedom Charter.
1959
April
Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) formed.
1960
March
69 people killed in Sharpeville

State of Emergency declared.
April The ANC and the PAC are declared illegal organisations.
June State of Emergency lifted.
1961
May
South Africa becomes a Republic (and leaves the Commonwealth).
June Umkhonto we Sizwe or MK (Spear of the Nation) formed as the ANC's military wing.
December MK launches armed struggle.
1964
June
Armscor established.
1966
August
South African police and SWAPO guerrillas clash in South West Africa/Namibia.
October The UN revokes South Africa's mandate for Namibia.
1968 PAC forms their armed wing, the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army (APLA).
1969 The ANC adopts the "armed struggle" as official policy.
1972 State Security Council established.
1973 SADF members sent to Namibia.
1974
April
Coup in Lisbon, Portugal (and implications for Southern African colonies, Angola and Mozambique).
1975 August SADF invades Angola.
1976 General Magnus Malan appointed Chief of the Defence Force.
March SADF withdraws from Angola.
1977
November
UN imposes compulsory arms embargo against South Africa.
1978
April
South Africa accepts Western plan for Namibia's independence.
May SADF attacks SWAPO camp at Cassinga, Angola killing over 600 people.
September P. W. Botha elected Prime Minister.
1980 General Malan appointed Minister of Defence

South West Africa Territory Force (SWATF) established to "Namibianise" the war in Namibia.
June Sasol synthetic oil refinery bombed by MK.
1981
January
SADF kills 14 people on a raid into Mozambique.
August SADF attacks SWAPO base in southern Angola killing 1000 people (Operation Protea).
December MK attacks SADF base at Voortrekkerhoogte.
December SADF kills 42 people in a raid on Lesotho.

MK attacks Koeberg nuclear power station
1983
May
ANC car bomb outside SAAF Headquarters kills 19 people.
May SADF attacks Mozambique killing six people.
August Formation of the UDF.
November Referendum and implementation of Tri-Cameral Constitution.
1984
January
SADF withdraws from Angola after Operation Askari
September SADF deployed in the townships.

P.W. Botha inaugurated as State President.
1985 Launch of a counter-revolutionary strategy by "securocrats".
June SADF kills 13 people in a raid on Botswana.
July Declaration of a partial State of Emergency.
August P.W. Botha delivers "Rubicon" Speech.
November Eminent Persons Group (EMG) established by the Commonwealth to report on progress towards the ending of apartheid.
December SADF raids Lesotho killing nine people.
1986
March
Partial State of Emergency lifted.
May SADF raids Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe (resulting in the collapse of a mission by the Eminent Persons Group to South Africa).
June National State of Emergency declared. The security forces are indemnified from unlawful acts carried out in "good faith".
October Operation Marion gets underway - a camp in Caprivi is established for the training of 200 Inkatha members.
1987
May
General Election with a focus on security. Conservative Party becomes official opposition.
September Wynand du Toit, a SADF soldier held in Angola is exchanged.
1988
January
SADF restores Lucas Mangope to power after a coup in Bophuthatswana.
December South Africa signs accords providing for the Independence of Namibia.
1989
February
F.W. De Klerk appointed leader of the National Party.
September F.W. De Klerk appointed State President.
October National Security Management System dismantled.
November Last SADF troops leave Namibia.
December De Klerk meets with Mandela.
1990
February
De Klerk unbans liberation movements and announces the scrapping of all forms of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners.
March Ciskei government is overthrown in a military coup.

Namibia becomes independent.

Sebokeng Massacre
April Venda government is overthrown in a military coup.
May Groote Schuur Minute signed.
June State of Emergency lifted, except in Natal.
July Violence between Inkatha and the UDF/ANC spreads from Natal to Johannesburg.
August The ANC suspends its armed struggle.Pretoria Minute signed.
October State of Emergency in Natal lifted.
November Harms Commission uncovers the Civil Co-operation Bureau (CCB), a covert SADF unit.

Attempted coup in Transkei.
1991
April
ANC demands the dismissal of Ministers Vlok and Malan, and calls for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into violence.
July Inkathagate reveals government funding of Inkatha and anti-Swapo political partiesin Namibia.
Minister of Police, Adriaan Vlok and the Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan demoted.
September National Peace Accord signed.
October Richard Goldstone is appointed to investigate public violence and intimidation.
December 19 political parties begin the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA).
1992
June
Boipatong Massacre in which 43 people die as a result of actions by 32 Battalion.
June Mandela accuses the government of complicity in the Boipatong massacre and suspends talks.
Setember Bisho Massacre in which 18 people die.
November Goldstone Commission uncovers campaign by the Directorate of Covert Collection to discredit the ANC.

General Pierre Steyn appointed to do a comprehensive analysis of the intelligence activities of the SADF.
December De Klerk suspends or retires 23 senior SADF officers for illegal activities as a result of the "Steyn Report".
1993
March
Announcement made that South Africa's six nuclear weapons have been destroyed.
June Armed right-wing members enter World Trade Centre.
July Election date set.
August Steyn submits his last progres report and indicates that that the SAP were doing little to investigate.
October SADF raids APLA house in Umtata killing five children.
December Interim Constitution approved by Parliament. Sub-Council on Defence established to assist the Transitional Executive Committee.
1994
March
Rioting in Bophuthatswana.
April First democratic elections results in a 62.6% majority vote for the ANC.
June UN lifts arms embargo on arms sales to South Africa.
1995
February
Green Paper (on Defence) distributed
May First Defence Review Workshop
July National Unity and Reconciliation Act passed.
1996
February
National Consultative Conference on the Defence Review.
March Trial of General Magnus Malan and others starts.
April TRC begins hearings.
May White Paper on Defence published
December Final Constitution signed by Mandela.

National Party leaves the Government of National Unity.
1997
August
Defence Review Report approved by Parliament and published.
March De Klerk accused of participating in decision to sep up a third force in the 1980s.
1998
October
TRC releases its report to the public.
1999
November
Eight people die in a shooting at the Tempe Military Base.
The Minister of Defence, Patrick (Mosiua) Lekota announces a Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into Transformation in the SANDF.
2000
February
The Minister of Defence, Mr Mosiuoa Lekota, launches a code of conduct for all uniformed members of the SANDF.

Appendix B: Principles of Transformation of South African Military from 1996 White Paper

11. The process of transformation will be guided by the following principles of "defence in a democracy". These principles derive from the Constitution and government policy.

11.1 National security shall be sought primarily through efforts to meet the political, economic, social and cultural rights and needs of South Africa's people, and through efforts to promote and maintain regional security;

11.2 South Africa shall pursue peaceful relations with other states. It will seek a high level of political, economic and military co-operation with Southern African states in particular;

11.3 South Africa shall adhere to international law on armed conflict and to all international treaties to which it is party;

11.4 The SANDF shall have a primarily defensive orientation and posture;

11.5 South Africa is committed to the international goals of arms control and disarmament. It shall participate in, and seek to strengthen, international and regional efforts to contain and prevent proliferation of small arms, conventional armaments and weapons of mass destruction;

11.6 South Africa's force levels, armaments and military expenditure shall be determined by defence policy which derives from an analysis of the external and internal security environment, which takes account of the social and economic imperatives of the RDP, and which is approved by parliament;

11.7 The SANDF shall be a balanced, modern, affordable and technologically advanced military force, capable of executing its tasks effectively and efficiently;

11.8 The functions and responsibilities of the SANDF shall be determined by the Constitution and the Defence Act;

11.9 The primary role of the SANDF shall be to defend South Africa against external military aggression. Deployment in an internal policing capacity shall be limited to exceptional circumstances and subject to parliamentary approval and safeguards;

11.10 The SANDF shall be subordinate and fully accountable to Parliament and the Executive;

11.11 The SANDF shall operate strictly within the parameters of the Constitution, domestic legislation and international humanitarian law. It shall respect human rights and the democratic political process.

11.12 Defence policy and military activities shall be sufficiently transparent to ensure meaningful parliamentary and public scrutiny and debate, insofar as this does not endanger the lives of military personnel or jeopardise the success of military operations;

11.13 The SANDF shall not further or prejudice party political interests;

11.14 The SANDF shall develop a non-racial, non-sexist and non-discriminatory institutional culture as required by the Constitution;

11.15 The composition of the SANDF shall broadly reflect the composition of South Africa. To this end, affirmative action and equal opportunity programs will be introduced;

11.16 The SANDF shall respect the rights and dignity of its members within the normal constraints of military discipline and training.

Glossary of Abbreviations

AI Amnesty International
ANC African National Congress
APLA Azanian Peoples Liberation Army
CBW Chemical and Biological Warfare
CCB Civil Co-operation Bureau
COMOPS Contra-Mobilisation Projects
CPR Certified Personnel Register
CSANDF Chief of the South African National Defence Force
CSVR Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation
DCC Directorate of Covert Collection
DMI Directorate of Military Intelligence
DOD Department of Defence
DPSC Detainees Parents Support Committee
DRC Democratic Republic of Congo
DST Directorate of Special Tasks
EIR Employer Initiated Retrenchment
FRELIMO Frente de Libertação de Moçambique
HRW Human Rights Watch
HSRC Human Science Research Council
IEC Independent Electoral Commission
IFP Inkatha Freedom Party
IISS International Institute for Strategic Studies
ISCOR Iron & Steel Corporation
ISD Internal Stability Division
JMC Joint Management Centre
JMCC Joint Military Co-ordinating Council
LDF Lesotho Defence Force
LIC Low Intensity Conflict
LLA Lesotho Liberation Army
MDC Military Disciplinary Code
MI Military Intelligence
MK Umkhonto we Sizwe
MNR (See: RENAMO)
NCO Non-Commissioned Officer
NDF National Defence Force (abbreviation for SANDF)
NIA National Intelligence Agency
NIS National Intelligence Service
NNP New National Party
NP National Party
NPKF National Peace-Keeping Force
NSF Non-Statutory Forces
NSMS National Security Management System
PAC Pan Africanist Congress
PF Permanent Force
RENAMO Movimento Nacional de Resistencia de Mocambique
SAAU South African Agricultural Union
SACP South African Communist Party
SADC Southern Africa Development Community
SADCC Southern African Development Coordination Conference
SADF South African Defence Force
SAHA South African History Archive
SAHRC South African Human Rights Commission
SAIIA South African Institute of International Affairs
SAMS South African Medical Service
SAN South African Navy
SANDF South African National Defence Force
SANUS South African National Union of Soldiers
SAP South African Police
SAPA South African Press Association
SAPS South African Police Services
SASFU South African Security Forces Union
SSC State Security Council
SWAPO South West African Peoples Organisation
SWATF South West African Territory Force
TEC Transitional Executive Council
TRC Truth and Reconciliation Commission
TVBC "Independent" states of Transkei, Venda, Bophuthatswana and Ciskei
UDF United Democratic Front
UN United Nations
UNITA Uniao Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola
WHAM Winning Hearts and Minds
 

Violence and Transition Series

The Violence and Transition Series introduces an extensive research project conducted by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) into the nature of violence during South Africa's transition from apartheid rule to democracy. This series comprises a set of self-contained, but interrelated, reports that explore violence across the period 1980-2000 within key social loci and areas, including:

While each report grapples with the dynamics of violence and transition in relation to its particular constituency, all are underpinned by the broad objectives of the series, namely:

Through these objectives, the Violence and Transition Series aims to inform and benefit:

working in the fields of:

As a country emerging from a past characterised by violence, repression and struggle, South Africa faces new challenges with the slow maturation of democracy. Violence today is complex, dynamic and creative in form, shaped by both apartheid and the mechanisms of transition itself. In order to understand - and prevent - violence during transition an ongoing action-research agenda is required. Through this series, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, offers an initial and exploratory contribution to this process.

The Violence and Transition Series is funded primarily by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The Project was also supported by the Embassy of Ireland and the Charles Stewart-Mott Foundation.

Series Editors
Piers Pigou
Bronwyn Harris
Brandon Hamber

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