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Country Reports
SOUTH AFRICA, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Key developments since May 2000: South Africa has continued to play a leading role in the intersessional work program of the Mine Ban Treaty. South African companies continued to carry out mine clearance operations and extensive research and development on demining technology and mine clearance equipment.

Mine Ban Policy

South Africa was the third country to sign the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. It ratified on 26 June 1998, and the treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. Under its Constitution, South Africa is bound by all international agreements it signs once both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces have approved them, at which time the international agreement becomes national law.[1] South Africa has reported since 1999 that it was in the process of developing enabling implementation legislation.[2] As of July 2001, no legislation had yet been promulgated although a draft bill has been produced and is being discussed, including with members of civil society and the landmine campaign in South Africa in particular.

The government sent a delegation to the Second Meeting of States Parties (SMSP) to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2000. A working paper by South Africa and Canada on the establishment of a Coordinating Committee to integrate the work of the intersessional Standing Committees of the Mine Ban Treaty was adopted by the SMSP. From the First Meeting of States Parties in May 1999 until the Second Meeting in September 2000, South Africa served as the co-chair (with Canada) of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention. While no longer a Standing Committee co-chair, South Africa continues to play a leading role in the intersessional work program and the various Standing Committees; it was an active participant in the Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001.

South Africa submitted its transparency report to the UN as required under Article 7 on 1 September 1999, covering the period since 1 March 1999. On 30 August 2000, South Africa submitted a second report to cover the period 28 August-31 December 1999, indicating no change to its original report. South Africa's third report, to cover calendar year 2000, was due on 30 April 2001. It is still in preparation and is expected to be submitted prior to the Third Meeting of States Parties in Managua, Nicaragua, in September 2001.

South Africa voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 55/33V in November 2000, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty. In addressing the UNGA First Committee, South Africa stated, “The Mine Ban Convention continues to set new standards in disarmament...[and] the international norm established by the Convention is having a global impact,” noting the “record breaking achievements” of rapid ratifications, eradication of stockpiles of antipersonnel mines, falling mine victim casualties, rising mine action funding, cessation of trade in mines, and declining production. South Africa said, “Furthermore, the inclusive nature of partnership between governments and civil society in the creation of the Convention has been maintained and reinforced through the Standing Committees of Experts and the Landmine Monitor. An enormous amount of implementation work has been done effectively through the SCE mechanism with minimum cost implication while the comprehensive annual monitor report has proved an effective compliance mechanism."[3]

South Africa sees the universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty as a priority.[4] The government is committed to working with its Southern African neighbors in dealing with the problems created by landmines not only because "of our obligations as a State Party, but because, from a foreign policy perspective, it is in South Africa's national interest."[5] In addition, South Africa has made clear that "we have banned antipersonnel mines...not because we found an alternative...but because we believe these mines' military utility is outweighed by their negative humanitarian impact."[6]

South Africa has been a state party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its protocols since October 1995, and its Amended Protocol II since June 1998. South Africa participated in the Second Annual Meeting of States Parties to the CCW Amended Protocol II in December 2000 in Geneva and made a statement on behalf of the States Parties who are also members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The statement confirmed that the countries concerned did not believe that Amended Protocol II should be further revised as this "would result in a multiplicity of instruments dealing with mines, booby-traps and other devices which will be detrimental to the implementation of obligations contained in Amended Protocol II."[7] Apparently, South Africa did not submit a Protocol II Article 13 report in 2000.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

South Africa is a past producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines.[8] Today it no longer has an antipersonnel landmine production capability.[9] Destruction of its stockpile of mines was completed on 30 October 1997.[10] The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) decided to retain a number of antipersonnel mines for training of soldiers to deal with antipersonnel mine threats during peacekeeping operations, as well as for the development of effective demining equipment, demining research purposes and military/civilian education purposes.[11] In 1997, the SANDF transferred 5,000 retained mines to Mechem for “research and training purposes.”[12] These mines are now under the control and authority of the CSIR’s Defencetek.

As of 31 December 2000, South Africa had a stock of 4,505 mines remaining from the 5,000 retained under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty. South Africa estimates that between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2001 an additional 152 to 200 mines will be used.[13]

Between 1995 and May 2001, some 6,420 antipersonnel mines have been destroyed under a joint South African-Mozambican program called Operation Rachel, to combat the illicit trafficking of weapons that are allegedly being used to fuel crime. In May 2000, several tons of firearms and ammunition were destroyed, including 23 landmines.[14] In May 2001, another 46 antipersonnel mines were destroyed under Operation Rachel.[15]

Mine Action

In May 1999, Jackie Selebi, then Director-General of Foreign Affairs, announced: “To ensure that South Africa effectively manages the implementation of the Treaty obligations, a South Africa Mine Action Center is in the process of being established under the auspices of the Department of Foreign Affairs.”[16] As of May 2001, the center was still in the process of being established.

One of South Africa's pre-eminent companies in the area of mine action is Mechem Consultants, a specialized engineering division and subsidiary of the South African state-owned arms company, Denel. Mechem has been involved in research and development for over twenty-eight years, mainly in the detection of landmines, protection against landmine explosions, and clearing of minefields. In March 2001, Mechem's research and development wing was sold to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a parastatal falling under the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, after the South African Cabinet gave its approval in October 2000. However, Denel retains Mechem's mine clearance services.

According to Flip Botha, the chief executive of Denel, "Denel's decision to retain Mechem's humanitarian demining capability was in order to focus on securing mine-clearance contracts, especially in neighboring countries and internationally. As a State-owned enterprise, Denel would still be undertaking humanitarian mine clearance on behalf of its shareholder, the government."[17] According to Ezra Jele, of Defencetek, the operational part of Mechem will now remain in the Denel group for appropriate positioning within the Group.[18] The acquisition will enable CSIR Defencetek to develop its landwards defense technology capability through research and development for the army and special forces, research into humanitarian mine clearing and development of landmine protection for vehicles.[19]

Mechem has in the past been contracted by UN agencies, governments, and private electrical or road-building companies for demining operations in various locations including Mozambique, Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, and northern Iraq. Mechem maintains offices in both Bosnia and Croatia. Presently, it is working in Kurdistan, northern Iraq, removing mines around power lines and training Kurds as dog handlers.[20] In March 2001 Mechem returned to Mozambique under a Japanese-funded contract with the government of Mozambique.[21]

In addition to Mechem, there are several other South African-based firms offering mine action services, including Pretoria-based BRZ International.[22] The regional office of Carlos Gassmann Tecnologias De Vanguarda Aplicadas Lda (CGTVA) is located in South Africa. CGTVA worked in Mozambique during 2000. TNT De-mining is one of the newest demining companies in South Africa and focuses mainly on the training of demining personnel at all levels. The Institute for Military Engineering Excellence in Southern Africa (IMEESA) is located on the outskirts of Pretoria and at its center provides, among other services, training in demining, mine awareness programs, management of demining projects and surveying.

In June 2000, the Deputy Minister of Defense, N.C. Madlala-Routledge, reiterated South Africa's concern that "those who profit from the arms industry or the manufacture of landmines are also those who profit, at the expense of the victims, from their removal."[23] She also challenged mine clearance operators to come forward with proposals, which enable the victims or the victim communities to profit from mine clearance.[24]

Mine Action Research and Development

South Africa is emerging as a leader in the field of mine clearance equipment and believes that it possesses leading demining technology and expertise, as well as medical capability and experience to assist mine victims. In South Africa, demining equipment is classified as armaments and as such sales and exports by South African companies are controlled and regulated by the government.

Mechem has a number of research contracts with the US government and private companies. In February 2001, the US Army Communications Electronics Command proposed a non-competitive acquisition with Mechem for the purpose of providing comparative testing between the Mechem Explosive and Drug Detection System (MEDDS) and the "Fido" Detection System developed by Nomadics, Inc, Stillwater, Oklahoma.[25] Comparative testing will be performed by Mechem to demonstrate the relative abilities of the two systems to detect the presence of landmines, as well as determine areas that are clear of mines. This procurement is limited to Mecham because this contractor is the only known source for this particular landmine detection system.[26] Mechem is also credited with inventing armor able to withstand the Yugoslav TRMP-6 "tank-killer" mine, which had been a curse to UN peacekeepers in Bosnia.[27]

In December 2000, as part of SADC's Mine Action Program, a course for National Mine Action Technical Advisors from Southern Africa was presented by IMEESA.

Other key South African research and development companies include: RSD, a division of Dorbyl Ltd; UXB, an American company with offices in Cape Town; Reutech Defense Industries (RDI); Vickers OMC; Armscor; and, the Center for Scientific Information and Research (CSIR).[28]

The South African Institute of International Affairs, based in Johannesburg, published in 2000 an edited volume, Beyond Demining: Capacity Building and Socio-Economic Consequences.[29]

Sir Richard Branson, who is spearheading a drive to clear mines using advanced radar technology, has enlisted Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, as a patron of the Mineseeker Foundation. Mr. Mandela was quoted as saying: “I wholeheartedly support the Mineseeker Foundation, which...will make a substantial impact in demining efforts in communities that have been deprived of economic stability and experience terrible human suffering.”[30]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

The South African Constitution forbids discrimination based on an individual's disability.[31] Statistics on the number of South Africans living with disabilities resulting from landmine incidents are unavailable. Society is increasingly open to the concept of persons with disabilities as a minority whose civil rights must be protected. The government attempts to ensure that all government-funded projects take account of the needs of disabled citizens. The Employment Equity Act requires private firms with more than 50 workers to create an affirmative action plan with provisions for achieving employment equity for the disabled. The National Environmental Accessibility Program, an NGO comprising disabled consumers as well as service providers, has established a presence in all nine provinces to lobby for compliance with the regulations and to sue offending property owners when necessary.[32]

The South African National Defense Force's Medical Services (SAMS) believes that it can make a significant contribution to the medical support of mine clearing operations and the treatment of the victims of landmines.[33]

In September 2000, the South Africa Podiatry Association organized a successful "Odd-Shoe Collection" campaign, collecting thousands of shoes for civilians injured or affected by war in the SADC region. The Association has also offered specialized feet care for landmine victims in response to Welfare Minister's call on the South African public to help civilian victims of war in neighboring countries.[34]

In December 2000, South Africa donated more than four million rand (US$524,000), as well as clothes, food, and other goods to Angola's war victims, the Social Development Minister, Zola Skweyiya announced. At a ceremony to hand over the donation to United Nations agencies, the Minister noted that about 70,000 Angolans have been injured by landmines planted during the course of the country's 25-year-old civil war.[35]

South Africa provides a number of international humanitarian organizations with financial aid aimed mainly at the SADC region. These include the World Food Program, UNHCR, the OAU Special Refugee Contingency Fund, UNICEF, the United Nations Volunteers, United Nations Development Fund for Women, International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In the year 2000/2001, the ICRC received a number of donations including R 400,000 (US$58,224) specifically for the rehabilitation of landmine survivors in the SADC region.[36]

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[1] The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, Chapter 14 231(4), (Wynberg: Constitutional Assembly, 1997).
[2] Article 7 report, for the reporting period 1 March 1999-1 September 1999, submitted 1 September 1999.
[3] Statement by Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, First Committee, 55th session of the UNGA, 3 October 2000.
[4] Statement by Ambassador George Nene to the Second Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 11 September 2000.
[5] Nozizwe Madllala-Routledge, South African Deputy Minister of Defense, quoted in G. Elliot, Beyond De-mining: Capacity Building & Socio-Economic Consequences, (Braamfontein: South African Institute of International Affairs, 2000).
[6] Statement by Ambassador George Nene to the Second Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 11 September 2000.
[7] Statement by South Africa on Behalf of the States Parties of Amended Protocol II of NAM and Other Countries, 12 December 2000.
[8] For information on past production, transfer, and stockpiling see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 83-84 and Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 103-104; see also, Alex Vines, “Ethics and Other Considerations for Demining in SADC,” paper delivered to an international conference, “Towards Cost-Effective Demining: an Evaluation of Experiences and Techniques,” Johannesburg, April 1998; see also, Martin Rupiya, Landmines in Zimbabwe: a Deadly Legacy, (Harare: SAPES Books, 1998), p. 25.
[9] Article 7 report, submitted 1 September 1999.
[10] As reported in Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 104, this included about 309,000 mines. An additional 2,586 antipersonnel mines that were found or seized were destroyed in 1999.
[11] South African National Defense Force, “Fact Sheet: South Africa's Initiatives on Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines,” 8 September 1999; see also, Article 7 report, Form D, 1 September 1999.
[12] Article 7 report, Form D, 1 September 1999.
[13] Telephone interview with Colonel C.J. Ferreira, Senior Staff Officer, Munitions, South African National Defence Force, 17 July 2001.
[14] “SA, Mozambique destroy illegal weapons,” Sunday Independent, 25 May 2000. See also, Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 104.
[15] Email from Ettienne Hennop, Researcher, Arms Management Program, Institute for Security Studies, to Landmine Monitor researcher, 10 July 2001.
[16] Jackie Selebi, Director-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Statement to the First Meeting of States Parties, Maputo, Mozambique, 3 May 1999.
[17] Solomon Makgale, “Denel Signs R10m Contract with CSIR,” Business Report, 30 March 2001.
[18] Email from Ezra Jele, DefenceTek, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, 5 April 2001.
[19] “CSIR Acquires Denel's Mechem Division,” DefenceNews, 2 April 2001.
[20] Lumka Oliphant, “Sniffing Out Landmines in Kurdistan,” Saturday Star (Johannesburg), 27 January 2001.
[21] Ibid.
[22] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 106, for BRZ mine action activities.
[23] N.C. Madlala-Routledge, Deputy Minister of Defense, Keynote Address to the South African Institute of International Affairs' Conference, “The Road Forward: Humanitarian Mine Clearance in South Africa,” 7-8 June 2000.
[24] Ibid.
[25] From the Commerce Business Daily Online via GPO Access, [cbdnet.access.gpo.gov], 27 February 2001.
[26] Ibid.
[27] “Landmines–everybody’s hidden enemy,” Eurostatry Show, Daily News, 25 June 1996.
[28] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 107-108, for details on these companies and their projects.
[29] Garreth Elliot, ed., Beyond Demining: Capacity Building and Socio-Economic Consequences (Johannesburg: South African Institute of International Affairs, 2000).
[30] John Carvel, “Branson’s airships to transform task of locating lethal landmines,” The Guardian, 27 January 2001, p. 11.
[31] South African Constitution, Section 9.
[32] P. McLaren and S. Philpott, Assessing Assistive Devices Services: a review of eight provinces in South Africa (Braamfontein: CASE, 1998). See also, M. Claassens and M. Schneider, Services Provided for disabled People by National and Provincial Government Departments (Braamfontein: CASE, 1998).
[33] G. M. Scharf, “The South African Medical Service's Doctrine, Expertise, Advice and Assistance on Mine Warfare and the Treatment of the Victims of Mine Warfare,” Paper Presented to the United Nations' International Meeting on Mine Clearance, Geneva, July 1995.
[34] Marjolein Harvey, “South Africans Get To Their Feet, Donate Shoes to Landmine Victims,” 4 September 2000; See www.iclinic.co.za/sep00/editorial/feet4.htm.
[35] “South Africa makes donation to Angola,” Times of India 21 December 2000.
[36] Information provided to Landmine Monitor by Humanitarian Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, South Africa, 14 April 2001.