South Africa

Imperial Armour is a South African company based in Durban, which produces a wide range of clothing, uniforms, boots, bullet proof vests and body armour, helmets, bags, and equipment such as binoculars, belts and holsters for military, police, fire and rescue, and demining groups.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma is scheduled to appear in court on July 27th on 16 charges (and 783 counts) of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud relating to South Africa’s long-running and convoluted arms deal scandal. Long time anti-arms activist Terry Crawford-Browne gives his take on the South African arms trade scandal.

The central element of the project is one of reclamation: a restored and refitted Casspir vehicle, its surfaces covered in elaborate, brightly-coloured panels of glass beadwork arrayed in traditional patterns and completed by artisans from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa including women of the Ndebele tribe, known for their craftmanship.

Activists and organisers from the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Campaign in South Africa have announced an end to the two year long #BoycottWoolworths campaign. The #BoycottWoolworths campaign was launched in August 2014 by a wide cross section of groups, and called for the complete boycott of Woolworths due to its Israeli trade relations. The organisers believe the campaign has achieved several goals, and have announced the end of the blanket boycott of Woolworths to broaden the campaign to now target all Israeli products in any store in South Africa.

Samantha Hargreaves from WoMin - an African gender and extractives alliance - speaks to Andrew Dey from WRI about the links between gender, extractive industries and militarism in Africa, and what this new network is doing to counter it.

Militarism is guns, armored tanks and drones, but it’s also a state of mind. Militarised mentalities have permeated many police forces and amplified dramatically the force of police violence against our communities.

Tear gas by remote controlA new report exploring the development of the use of remote control technology to deliver tear gas and other 'riot control agents' (RCAs) has been released by the Remote Control Project, the Omega Foundation and the Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project.

Richard's Story

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Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Richard Steele, from South Africa, was imprisoned three times in the 1980s for his anti-apartheid activism. During that decade he was caretaker of Phoenix Settlement, Gandhi’s original ashram outside Durban, then worked for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, also based in Durban. He was an activist in the End Conscription Campaign anddescribes this experience and his experience as a white man conscientiously objecting to the regime of apartheid.

On the 25th of February 1980 I was sentenced by a military court in Pretoria to 12 months in military prison for refusing to submit to compulsory military service. I was 23 years old, and had just finished a BA degree in Psychology and English, and a postgraduate teaching diploma at the University of Cape Town.

There are reports that conscription could return to South Africa in 2016 – there has been no conscription in the country since 1994, when the first multi-racial elections took place. According to 'City Press', plans are being finalised for a youth programme that would see young people over the age of 18 sent for military training. According to the website BusinessTech, the ANC-led South African government has claimed that the programme is designed to “combat youth unemployment, instill discipline, patriotism and volunteerism.”

For more information, see News24.com, 'The SA Army wants you(th)', July 2015: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/The-SA-army-wants-youth-20150725

Businesstech.co.za, 'Army conscription may return to South Africa: report', July 2015, http://businesstech.co.za/news/general/94301/army-conscription-may-return-in-south-africa-report/

Christopher McMichael

The South African government’s official policy on borders and immigration is coached in the language of human rights and opening up colonial era boundaries in Africa. But the reality is more authoritarian and brutal – economic migrants and asylum seekers, particularly from other African countries, are regular targets for violent harassment by the police, are illegally denied access to basic services like hospitals or sent to detention facilities. State officials are heavily invested in rhetoric about border security and constantly make ominous statements about foreign threats to the South African homeland, from transnational drug smuggling to rhino poaching. Of course, this is not novel or particular to South Africa. States have historically used physical borders and violence to delineate outsiders from citizens, while also combining military operations outside their territory with domestic policing. This is becoming even more apparent with the modern wars on drugs and terror, in which wars and operations abroad are combined with the extension of surveillance and restrictions on civil liberties.

Laura Pollecutt

During the years of apartheid, discussions were ongoing both inside and outside the country, about how state security institutions would function in a post-apartheid democratic state. These discussions intensified in the dying years of apartheid.

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