Country Listing

South Africa Table of Contents

South Africa

National Security

Armed Forces: Armed forces renamed South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Military reorganization in mid-1990s to integrate national armed services with former homeland and liberation forces. Active-duty forces (1996): 137,900. Army 118,000, of whom 4,000 women; air force 8,400, of whom 800 women; navy 5,500, of whom 350 women; medical service 6,000, of whom 2,000 women. Commandos 76,000. Reserves: approximately 474,700, of which army 453,000, air force 20,000, navy 1,700. Downsizing to reduce SANDF to 90,000 by 1999. Civilian minister of defense; president commander in chief. Conscription ended, 1994; voluntary service of two to six years, followed by ten-year part-time service (maximum sixty days training per two-year period). Military budget (R10.7 billion), less than 2 percent of GDP, 1997.

Police: 147,000: 110,000 active, 37,000 reserves (1997). Reorganized in 1994 as South African Police Service under minister for safety and security. President appoints national police commissioner, nine provincial police commissioners. Emphasis on ending violence, reducing crime, improving community relations, racial tolerance, decentralization of leadership, demilitarization of ranks and symbols. Vigilantism increasing in response to continued violence. Senior ranks still predominantly white; some racial biases persist. Police budget (R13.1 billion), 2.1 percent of GDP, 1997.

Prisons: 129,000 prisoners (1996), severe overcrowding, manpower shortages in prisons. More than 200 deaths in police custody (1995). Laws amended in 1995 to prohibit detention of children under eighteen in prisons.

National Reconciliation: Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigating human rights violations 1960-93. Hearings since early 1996 considering victim compensation, amnesty for most political crimes, to be completed in 1997 or 1998. Several senior security officials indicted for murders committed under apartheid; others implicated in testimony before commission. Government-appointed Human Rights Commission to investigate, assist aggrieved individuals seeking redress against government officials and others.

Data as of May 1996