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Country Reports
South Africa , Landmine Monitor Report 2003

South Africa

Key developments since May 2002: The South African Parliament passed domestic implementation legislation in April 2003. South Africa has continued to play a leading role in the intersessional work program of the Mine Ban Treaty and in promoting universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty among African States.

Mine Ban Policy

South Africa signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 26 June 1998, and the treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. The South African Parliament passed domestic implementation legislation in April 2003. (See section below). South Africa submitted its annual updated Article 7 transparency report on 30 April 2003, covering calendar year 2002.[1]

South Africa continues to play a very active role in the intersessional work program, including the Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003, and the Universalization and Article 7 Contact Groups, as well as in the President’s Consultations on preparations for the 2004 Review Conference.

South Africa also continues to play a key role in pressing for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty. Addressing a regional mine action workshop in October 2002, South Africa’s Minister of Defense emphasized that South Africa uses its presence in multilateral and other fora to advocate strongly for a total ban on antipersonnel mines through the universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.[2] In November 2002, South Africa voted in support of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, promoting universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

In his statement to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, the South African Ambassador stated that the Mine Ban Treaty "has irreversibly established itself as the international norm in banning antipersonnel landmines." He noted, “With all the SADC [Southern African Development Community] countries that are now States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, and with the establishment of the Mine Action Committee, our region has in place the structures to forever eradicate the anti-personnel mine scourge.”[3]

South Africa is an active member of the SADC Mine Action Committee. This Committee met in June 2002 to finalize five European Union/SADC funded projects, develop future mine action programs for the region, and discuss the Committee's role in promoting the Mine Ban Treaty among member states. According to South Africa's Minister of Defense, the challenges that the SADC Mine Action Committee is facing include: the need to address the problems faced by humanitarian deminers in SADC; the need to develop a regional mine action network; the establishment of regional standards; and the need to facilitate resource and investment mobilization.[4]

South Africa is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and Amended Protocol II. South Africa participated in the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II and the Conference of States Parties to the CCW in December 2002, as well as the work of the Group of Governmental Experts throughout 2002 and 2003. South Africa has strongly supported the negotiation of a legally binding instrument on explosive remnants of war. South Africa submitted its Amended Protocol II Article 13 report in December 2002.

National Implementation Legislation

South Africa began developing implementation legislation for the Mine Ban Treaty in 1999.[5] The Cabinet accepted the draft document on 29 May 2002 and on 5 November 2002 the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defense approved the “Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Bill” unanimously.[6] The National Assembly approved the bill on 8 April 2003. In May 2003, South Africa reported that the bill was awaiting approval by the National Council of Provinces.[7]

The South African legislation is notable both for its content and the process for developing it. In June 2001, the government’s Enabling Legislation Drafting Committee asked Mines Action Southern Africa (MASA), the national member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, to organize a number of workshops to facilitate civil society input into the domestic legislation. Six workshops were held and many suggestions that came out of these consultations were incorporated into the bill. As noted by a government official, “This inclusive approach underlines the South African government’s approach and proven track-record of consulting civil society and in this instance, of the partnership that has been forged between Government and civil society in the field of mine action, as well as with the industry as a prime stake-holder.”[8]

The bill prohibits not only devices that are designed as antipersonnel landmines, but also any other device that acts like one. Any weapon that is victim-activated and that explodes due to the presence, proximity or contact of a person is banned.[9] South Africa is aware that “critical definitions of what constitutes mines and other prohibited munitions in legislation of this nature runs the risk of being outdated quite quickly because of technological development. Critical therefore to the attainment of the objectives of the legislation is that NGOs and State signatories keep a constant eye on how technological developments often can and sometimes do undermine the definition of AP landmines.”[10]

The bill provides for the implementation and enforcement of the Mine Ban Treaty in South African Law, ensuring the destruction of antipersonnel mines, and providing for domestic inspections, for international fact-finding missions to South Africa, for domestic as well as international cooperation, and for other matters relating to the obligations of the Republic under the Convention. If found guilty of an offense, a person is liable for a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 25 years or both a fine and imprisonment. Any juristic person (company) who contravenes the bill shall be liable to a fine not exceeding R1 million. The South African military may not assist other militaries in using, transporting or storing antipersonnel mines.[11]

At a Standing Committee meeting in February 2003, South Africa stated that, while it is permitted to participate in joint military operations with States not party to the Mine Ban Treaty, if a contravention occurs, South Africa must terminate participation or take appropriate actions as deemed necessary.[12]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

South Africa is a past producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines.[13] It stopped production of antipersonnel mines in 1995 and prohibited export in 1996. Destruction of its stockpile of antipersonnel mines was completed in October 1998.[14]

South Africa maintains stocks of Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines. South Africa has reported that these have only command activated firing devices, and not “victim-triggerable firing devices,” such as tripwires.[15]

In December 2002, a Russian OZM antipersonnel mine was defused and confiscated after being found on the property of a resident of Midrand, Gauteng.[16] In April 2003, a number of explosive devices were found on a farm belonging to a former military instructor near Warden in the eastern Free State. The collection included landmines and ground-to-air projectiles used during military training. The farm owner was a former military instructor in Namibia. [17]

As permitted under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty, South Africa retains antipersonnel mines for the training of soldiers, as well as for the development of effective demining equipment, demining research and military/civilian education purposes.[18] In 1997, the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) transferred 5,000 retained mines to Mechem.[19] In its Article 7 reports, South Africa has reported that Mechem used 170 Rain 51103-05 antipersonnel mines for demonstration and training purposes in 1999, another 325 in 2000, another 50 in 2001, and another 55 in 2002. As of 31 December 2002, 4,400 Rain 51103-05 mines remained in stock, under the control and authority of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Defensetek.[20]

Mine Action Assistance

Mozambique: Landmine Monitor has previously reported on Operation Rachel, a bilateral cooperation agreement on arms destruction between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM).[21] Since 1995, 18 operations have been conducted and some 21,600 firearms, 1,600 antipersonnel mines and five million rounds of ammunition, among other weapons have been destroyed. These include, in October/November 2002, two more antipersonnel mines and two antivehicle mines, as well as detonators for antivehicle mines that were recovered and destroyed.[22]

Ethiopia: In April 2002, a delegation from the Ethiopian Mine Action Office held a series of meetings with South African entities involved in mine action about mine action assistance in Ethiopia. Three South African explosive experts are assisting with the training of deminers.

Mechem Consultants, a subsidiary of the state-owned arms company Denel, has been involved in mine action activities for over four decades. Mechem executes mine clearance contracts, and provides mine clearance equipment as well mine-protected vehicles.[23] Since 1997, Mechem has been involved in the UN Food for Oil Programme in Northern Iraq, where it has managed the Mine Detecting Dog operation.[24] In 2002, this contract was worth $6 million.[25] Before the invasion of Iraq by US-led forces, a Mechem team of 27 South Africans, 689 Iraqis and Kurds and 180 dogs had reportedly cleared 10 million square meters of land of landmines and unexploded ordnance.[26]

Mechem has been contracted by MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo to conduct technical surveys and to facilitate the further deployment of MUNOC in the Kisangani and Kindu airports. During the last months of 2002 and the first quarter of 2003, Mechem has cleared the Kisangani, Kindo and Manono airfields, as well as an old disused sawmill at La Forestiere (to be used by theUnited Nations) in the DRC.[27]

Mechem is providing the US government through RONCO with an EOD specialist, and has also visited Afghanistan at the request of UNOPS to investigate the use of technology to hasten the clearance of the national roads in order to allow for their early rehabilitation.

Other South African-based firms: Other South African-based firms offering mine action services include Pretoria-based BRZ International.[28] The regional office of Carlos Gassmann Tecnologias De Vanguarda Aplicadas Lda (CGTVA) is also located in South Africa, as is European Landmine Solutions (ELS). CGTVA worked in Mozambique during 2000; ELS-Africa has worked with CARE in Angola. TNT Demining focuses mainly on the training and provision of demining personnel at all levels. The Institute for Military Engineering Excellence in Southern Africa provides, among other services, training in demining, mine awareness programs, management of demining projects and surveying. Conflict Zone Logistics is in the process of training deminers. UXB Africa provides a number of services including UXO and customized landmine-related training courses.[29] Specialist Dog Services (SDS) breed mine detection dogs and train handlers and has operational experience in countries such as Angola, Croatia, Mozambique, Namibia, and Uganda, as well as Northern Iraq. Bullet Proof Technology (BPT) offers a range of materials to provide protection against antipersonnel and antitank mines.

On 9 December 2002, members of South Africa's mine action community, in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Pretoria East, hosted a Night of 1,000 Dinners fundraiser for the Adopt-a-Minefield program.

Mine Action Research and Equipment Development

South Africa is a significant producer of mine clearance equipment and believes that it possesses leading demining 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 are controlled and regulated by the government.

In April 2001, Mechem transferred its research and development capability to Defensetek, a Division of the Center for Scientific Information and Research (CSIR) and its core focus is now on providing mine action services. However, Mechem is still involved in a number of applied research contracts with the US government and private companies. It also maintains close cooperation with Defensetek and contracts with them annually to provide Mechem with applied technology solutions for use in the field of demining services.

Defensetek, the technology partner of the Department of Defense, produces mine clearing equipment and mine-protected vehicles or modifications. The CSIR through Defensetek also undertakes mine action-related research, development, testing and evaluation. The US Army has contracted the CSIR for vehicle mine protection consultation and the development of a lower leg protection system for antipersonnel mines.[30]

Other key South African research and development companies include: RSD, a division of Dorbyl Ltd. RSD produces the Mobile Mine Detection and Clearing System which was developed, designed and manufactured in South Africa to provide mine detection and clearance of roads.[31] Alvis South Africa, a subsidiary of Alvis plc of the United Kingdom, has a division, Alvis OMC, which produces mine-protected vehicles.[32] Armscor’s Armour Development Unit specializes in armor development, including landmine protection and design against mine blasts. DEMCO (PTY) LTD, a demining equipment manufacturing company, combines landmine clearing with infrastructural development.[33] Securicor Gray (Africa) offers survey and quality assurance services, landmine clearance and UXO disposal teams as well as community mine risk education training. Somchem, a division of Denel (Pty) Ltd offers focused research, design, development and production services including a full range of man-portable and vehicle-mounted explosive minefield breaching systems.

Companies and organizations active in mine action as researchers, policy formulators, evaluation, conference organization and facilitators include: Management & Conference Services Africa (Pty) Ltd; Mines Action Southern Africa; South African Institute for International Relations (SAIIA); and the African Demining Institute. In 2002, a South Africa company, Evalnet: Evaluation for Sustainable Development in Africa, was contracted by UNICEF to develop and implement a KAP survey on landmine/UXO awareness in Somalia. [34] The University of Cape Town's Physics Department has undertaken some research into “Land Mine Detection by Neutron Backscattering.”[35]

In June 2002, a SADC regional demining operators meeting took place in Luanda, Angola. This was the first regional demining operators meeting of its kind under the SADC umbrella. An important outcome of this workshop was the recommendation that a regional self-regulating forum be established to ensure that international standards are adhered to and to enhance exchange of information across the region about the challenges facing mine action within the SADC.[36]

A regional workshop on “Humanitarian Mine Action and Development: the Missing Link?” was hosted by the Finnish-funded SAIIA Landmine Project in October 2002. The SAIIA Landmine Project closed in mid-2003.

Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In April 2002, a South African deminer under contract with Empresa Moçambicana de Desminagem, Lda (EMD) was seriously injured in a mine accident in Mozambique.[37]

In May 2002, a newly established South African company, Africa Medical Assistance (ASA) entered into an agreement with the Institute for National Social Security in Burundi for the supply of prostheses. The first phase of the project is prostheses for approximately 100 patients. The provision of prostheses is linked to a physical rehabilitation-training program and support for local authorities.[38]

South Africa provides a number of international humanitarian organizations with financial and material aid aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at SADC member States. In the 2002/2003 financial year ending March 2003, South Africa contributed R500,000 (US$50,000) to the ICRC for mine action in Angola.[39] In FY 2001/2002, the ICRC received a contribution of R200,000 (US$20,000) specifically for the rehabilitation of landmine survivors in Angola.[40]

South Africa’s April 2003 Article 7 report included the voluntary Form J to report victim assistance funding.[41]

[1] This was South Africa’s fifth report. It has previously submitted Article 7 reports on 1 September 1999 (for the period since 1 March 1999), 30 August 2000 (for 28 August-31 December 1999), 17 September 2001 (for calendar year 2000), and 28 May 2002 (for calendar year 2001).
[2] Statement by Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defense, South Africa, to the Regional Workshop on “Humanitarian Mine Action and Development: the Missing Link?” hosted by the SAIIA Landmine Project, 10 October 2002.
[3] Statement by Ambassador George Nene to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 16 September 2002.
[4] Statement by Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defense, 10 October 2002.
[5] Article 7 Report, Form A, 1 September 1999.
[6] “Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Bill,” (B44-2002), 5 November 2002. (As introduced in the National Assembly as a section 75 Bill; explanatory summary of bill published in Government Gazette 23744 of 26 August 2002).
[7] Oral remarks to the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 16 May 2003 (Landmine Monitor/HRW notes).
[8] Statement by Ambassador George Nene to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, 16 September 2002.
[9] Noel Stott, “Parliament to Debate Bill to Outlaw Landmines,” Ceasefire: Anti-War News, November/December 2002.
[10] Statement by Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defense, 10 October 2002.
[11] “Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Bill,” (B44-2002), 5 November 2002.
[12] Oral remarks to the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 7 February 2003 (Landmine Monitor/HRW notes).
[13] For information on past production, transfer, and stockpiling see: Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 83-84; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 103-104; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 148-149.
[14] This included about 309,000 mines. An additional 2,586 antipersonnel mines that were found or seized were destroyed in 1999. See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 104.
[15] Article 7 Report, Form D, 30 April 2003; interview with Nick Sendall, Policy and Planning, Department of Defense, 2 May 2003.
[16] L. Venter, “Backyard Clean-up Unearths Landmine,” The Citizen, 31 December 2002.
[17] “Landmines, Missiles Found on Free State Farm,” South African Press Association, 22 April 2003.
[18] South African National Defense Force, “Fact Sheet: South Africa's Initiatives on Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines,” 6 April 2001; Article 7 Report, Form D, 28 May 2002.
[19] Article 7 Report, Form D, 1 September 1999.
[20] Article 7 Report, Forms D and G, 30 April 2003.
[21] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 449.
[22] Special Task Force, South African Police Service, “Statistics of Operation Rachel VIII (2),” 15 January 2003.
[23] Denel, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 56.
[24] Correspondence from Braam Rossouw, Mechem Consultants, 31 March 2003.
[25] Linda Ensor, “Local Firm Likely to Clear Iraq Land Mines,” Business Day (Johannesburg), 11 April 2003.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Correspondence from Braam Rossouw, Mechem Consultants, 31 March 2003.
[28] For BRZ mine action activities see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 106.
[29] UXB website, www.uxb.com
[30] Correspondence from Trevor Kirsten, Program Manager, Landwards and Applied Technology, Defensetek, CSIR, 8 April 2003; Armaments Corporation of South Africa Limited (Armscor), “South African Defense Industry Directory 2002–2003,” Seventh Edition, 2003.
[31] The system has the capability of detecting antivehicle mines by using pulse induction type mine detectors fitted to the vehicle. Mines unable to be found by the electronic detection system are exploded by means of mine detonating trailers towed by another vehicle. See Armscor, “South African Defense Industry Directory 2002–2003.”
[32] Alvis OMC, “Company Profile,” 2003; Alvis OMC website, www.alvisomc.co.za
[33] Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining, “Mechanical Demining Equipment Catalogue 2003,” December 2002.
[34] Evalnet website, www.evalnet.co.za
[35] See 7th International Conference on Applications of Nuclear Techniques, Nuclear and Atomic Industrial and Analytical Applications, Crete, Greece, 17-23 June 2001. Website, www.wku.edu/API/crete2001
[36] Neuma Grobbelaar, “SADC Demining Operators Meeting: Grasping the nettle of regional mine action at last?” Demining Debate, Issue II, July/August 2002.
[37] De Wet Potgieter, “Landmyn Tref Ororlogsheld Wat Vrederswerk Doen,” Rapport, 21 July 2002.
[38] Interview with Christo Schutte, Africa Medical Assistance, 2 July 2002.
[39] Information provided by Humanitarian Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, 22 April 2003.
[40] Information provided by Humanitarian Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs, 8 April 2002. The 2003 Article 7 Report lists this contribution for calendar year 2002. Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003.
[41] Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003.