+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
South Africa, Landmine Monitor Report 2004

South Africa

Key developments since May 2003: National implementation legislation, which was approved by the National Assembly on 8 April 2003, was promulgated on 5 December 2003. South Africa has served as co-rapporteur of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention since September 2003. The South African Police Service revealed that it is holding 58 antipersonnel mines for training purposes.

Key developments since 1999: South Africa has played a leading role in the intersessional work program of the Mine Ban Treaty and in promoting universalization and full implementation of the treaty, especially in Africa. South Africa served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention from May 1999 to September 2000, and as co-rapporteur of the same committee since September 2003. South Africa completed destruction of its stockpile of mines in October 1997. National implementation legislation was promulgated in December 2003. South African firms have been involved in mine clearance operations around the world, and in developing demining technology and equipment.

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. South Africa was part of the core group of countries leading the Ottawa Process. It hosted the May 1997 Organization of African Unity Kempton Park meeting, which was key to building support for the ban treaty among African states, and Ambassador Jackie Selebi served as President of the Oslo treaty negotiations.

Since 1999, South Africa has played a leading role in the intersessional work program of the Mine Ban Treaty and in promoting universalization and full implementation of the treaty, especially in Africa. South Africa served as the first co-chair of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention from May 1999 to September 2000, and returned as co-rapporteur of the same committee in September 2003. South Africa was instrumental in the establishment of the treaty’s Implementation Support Unit in 2001. South Africa has been influential in the planning and execution of the annual Meetings of States Parties and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings since 1999. It has been active in the Universalization and Article 7 Contact Groups. South Africa has also been participating in the preparatory process for the 2004 Review Conference.

Regionally, South Africa is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mine Action Committee. In 2002, South Africa stated that the challenges the SADC Mine Action Committee faced included the need to develop a regional mine action network, to establish regional standards, and to facilitate resource mobilization.[1] South Africa, along with Nigeria and Senegal, developed the political framework, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which was endorsed by all African leaders at the OAU summit on 11 July 2001. NEPAD recognizes that combating the illicit proliferation of small arms, light weapons and landmines is one of the important conditions for sustainable development.[2] South Africa has voted in favor of every pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003.

South Africa began developing implementation legislation for the Mine Ban Treaty in 1999. After a lengthy consultation process within government, and with industry and civil society stakeholders, the “Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act” was approved by the National Assembly on 8 April 2003 and promulgated on 5 December 2003.[3] The ICBL and others have commended South Africa for the strength of the bill, and for the inclusive process that produced it.

The bill prohibits not only devices that are designed as antipersonnel landmines, but also any other device that acts like one. It includes penal sanctions for violations of the law, and provides for domestic inspections, international fact-finding missions to South Africa, and domestic as well as international cooperation. The South African military may not assist other militaries in using, transporting or storing antipersonnel mines.[4]

South Africa has participated in the extensive States Parties discussions on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty, and its national legislation also addresses these issues. With respect to Article 1, 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.[5] With respect to Article 2, South Africa has expressed its view during intersessional meetings that an antivehicle mine with an antihandling device capable of being activated by the unintentional act of a person is banned. With regard to Article 3, South Africa in June 2004 questioned a proposal that States Parties agree to report more specifically on the intended purposes and actual uses of mines retained for training.[6]

South Africa submitted its annual updated Article 7 transparency report on 23 April 2004, covering calendar year 2003. It has submitted five previous reports.[7]

South Africa is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II. South Africa participated in the Annual Conference of States Parties to the CCW in November 2003, and submitted its Amended Protocol II Article 13 report in December 2002. South Africa has participated in the work of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on antivehicle mines and on explosive remnants of war (ERW) since 2002, and strongly supported the negotiation of Protocol V on ERW, which was agreed to in November 2003.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

South Africa is a past producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines.[8] It stopped production of antipersonnel mines in 1995 and prohibited export in 1996. In May 1996, it suspended the use of antipersonnel mines, pending an evaluation of military utility of the weapon.[9] South Africa completed the destruction of its stockpiles of antipersonnel mines on 30 October 1997.[10]

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.[11] In 1997, the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) transferred 5,000 retained mines to Mechem. 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, 50 in 2001, 55 in 2002, and 44 in 2003. As of 31 December 2003, 4,356 Rain 51103-05 mines remained in stock, under the control and authority of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Defencetek. However, during consultations with government departments in the compilation of the 2003 Article 7 report, the South African Police Service indicated that it was holding 58 antipersonnel mines of various types, used in accordance with Article 3, thus increasing the number of retained mines to 4,414 antipersonnel mines.[12]

South Africa maintains stocks of Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines, but indicated in 2003 that these only have command-activated firing devices, and not “victim-triggerable firing devices,” such as tripwires.[13]

In the past, landmines were used in South Africa, though not extensively. Ex-combatants from both the former apartheid regime and the African National Congress (ANC) admitted during the Truth and Reconciliation hearings to laying mines.[14] The ANC publicly apologized for the civilian deaths and injuries resulting from the use of antipersonnel landmines.

Mine Action Assistance

South Africa provides a number of international humanitarian organizations with financial and material aid aimed mainly, but not exclusively, at activities in SADC member states. (See below for Survivor Assistance).

In 2002, three South African explosive experts helped with the training of Ethiopian deminers. As part of Operation Rachel, a bilateral cooperation agreement on arms destruction between the South African Police Service and the Police of the Republic of Mozambique, 1,600 antipersonnel mines (among other weapons) were destroyed from 1995 to November 2002.[15]

Numerous South African companies are involved in mine action, most notably Mechem Consultants, a subsidiary of the state-owned arms company Denel that has been engaged in mine action activities for over four decades.[16] In March 2004, Mechem began surveying roads in southern Sudan, under contract with the UN Office for Project Services, using the Mechem Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection System (MVMMDS), “an electronic landmine and UXO detection system mounted on a mine protected vehicle platform,” which automatically marks suspected areas that are subsequently manually demined.[17] Mechem is also working with the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action on a road clearance project in Western and Eastern Equatoria.[18]

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mechem has been contracted by the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) to conduct technical surveys and to facilitate the further deployment of MONUC in the Kisangani and Kindu airports. Work began in late 2002. The DRC reports that by the end of 2003, Mechem had cleared around airports in Kisangani, Manono, Kindu and Bunia, and was working on the road to Beni in Bunia.[19]

Beginning in 1997, Mechem was involved in the UN Food for Oil Program in northern Iraq, where it managed the Mine Detecting Dog operation.[20] In 2002, this contract was worth US$6 million. Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 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 landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO).[21]

In 2002, a South African company, Evalnet: Evaluation for Sustainable Development in Africa, was contracted by UNICEF to develop and implement a “Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices” survey on landmine/UXO awareness in Somalia.[22]

Other South Africa-based firms offer mine action services. Pretoria-based BRZ International has cleared mines in at least five countries.[23] The regional office of Carlos Gassmann Tecnologias De Vanguarda Aplicadas Lda (CGTVA) is 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 (IMEESA) provides, among other services, training in demining, mine awareness programs, management of demining projects and surveying. Conflict Zone Logistics trains deminers. UXB Africa provides a number of services including UXO and customized landmine-related training courses.[24] Specialist Dog Services breeds mine detecting dogs, trains handlers, and has operational experience in countries such as Angola, Croatia, Mozambique, Namibia and Uganda, as well as northern Iraq. Bullet Proof Technology offers a range of materials to provide protection against antipersonnel and antitank mines.

Mine Action Research and Development

South Africa is a significant producer of mine clearance equipment and is considered to possess leading demining expertise. 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 Defencetek. However, Mechem is still involved in a number of applied research contracts with the US government and private companies. Defencetek, the technology partner of the Department of Defense, produces mine-clearing equipment and mine-protected vehicles or modifications. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), through Defencetek, 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.[25]

RSD, a division of Dorbyl Ltd., produces the Mobile Mine Detection and Clearing System that was developed, designed and manufactured in South Africa to provide mine detection and clearance of roads.[26] Alvis South Africa, a subsidiary of Alvis plc of the United Kingdom, has a division, Alvis OMC, which produces mine-protected vehicles.[27] 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.[28] 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 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, evaluators, conference organizers and facilitators include Management & Conference Services Africa (Pty) Ltd, Mines Action Southern Africa, South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), and the African Demining Institute. 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. The University of Cape Town's Physics Department has undertaken some research into “Land Mine Detection by Neutron Backscattering.”[29]

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. 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 the IMEESA.

Landmine 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.[30]

In 2003, South Africa contributed R500,000 (US$50,000) to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for mine action in Angola.[31] In 2002, the ICRC received R200,000 (US$20,000) for the rehabilitation of landmine survivors in Angola and R350,000 (US$35,000) in 2000 and 2001, for the rehabilitation of landmine survivors in the SADC region.[32]

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; this is linked to a physical rehabilitation training program and support for local authorities.[33]

Since 2001, South Africa has submitted the voluntary Form J with its annual Article 7 Report to report victim assistance funding.[34] A South African mine survivor participated in the Raising the Voices training program in 2002.

[1] Statement by Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister of Defense, 10 October 2002.
[2] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 448, for more details on this and other examples of South Africa’s participation in universalization of the ban treaty in Africa.
[3] Article 7 Report, Form A, 23 April 2004.
[4] See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 430, for more details. Sanctions for offenders include: if found guilty of an offense, a person is liable for a fine and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 25 years, and any company who contravenes the bill is liable to a fine not exceeding R1 million.
[5] Oral remarks to the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 7 February 2003 (Landmine Monitor/HRW notes).
[6] Oral remarks to the Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 25 June 2004 (Landmine Monitor/HRW notes).
[7] South Africa 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), 28 May 2002 (for calendar year 2001), and 30 April 2003 (for calendar year 2002).
[8] For information on past production, transfer, and stockpiling see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 83-85; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 103-104; and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 148-149. South Africa's mines have been found in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe and exported further afield to Cambodia, Rwanda and Somalia. The US Department of Defense has identified South Africa as manufacturing six antipersonnel mines: the R2M2; the R2M1; the Mini-MS 803; Shrapnel No. 2; the Type 72, a direct copy of the Chinese Type 72; and the No. 69 Mk1, a direct copy of the Italian Valmara 69.
[9] At that time, South Africa advocated “smart” mines as alternatives to antipersonnel mines. By early 1997, its policy had shifted to full support for a comprehensive ban. Landmine Monitor Report 1999 p. 83.
[10] 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.
[11] South African National Defense Force, “South Africa's Initiatives on Banning Anti-Personnel Landmines,” Fact Sheet, 6 April 2001; Article 7 Report, Form D, 28 May 2002.
[12] Article 7 Report, Form D, 23 April 2004.
[13] Article 7 Report, Form D, 30 April 2003; Interview with Nick Sendall, Policy and Planning, Department of Defense, 2 May 2003.
[14] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 85-86, for information on the scope and consequences of landmine use during that conflict. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 449, and Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 431, for information on caches of explosive devices found on three occasions in 2002 and 2003.
[15] These operations have included the destruction of antivehicle mines as well. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 449 and Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p, 431.
[16] Mechem Consultants has carried out mine clearance contracts, and provided mine clearance equipment as well as mine-protected vehicles to UN agencies, governments and private companies. In addition to the countries mentioned here, Mechem has worked in Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia and Croatia. See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 450 and Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 432 for further details about Mechem.
[17] Landmine Monitor field trip, interview with J.P. Botha, Mechem Project Manager, Kapoeta, Sudan, April 2004.
[18] Interview with Jim Pansegrouw, Chief Technical Advisor, National Mine Action Office, Khartoum, 22 April 2004.
[19] DR Congo Article 7 Report, Form F, 21 June 2004.
[20] Correspondence from Braam Rossouw, Mechem Consultants, 31 March 2003.
[21] Linda Ensor, “Local Firm Likely to Clear Iraq Land Mines,” Business Day, 11 April 2003.
[22] Evalnet Website, www.evalnet.co.za
[23] For BRZ mine action activities, see Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 106.
[24] UXB Website, www.uxb.com.
[25] Email from Trevor Kirsten, Program Manager, Landwards and Applied Technology, Defencetek, CSIR, 8 April 2003; Armaments Corporation of South Africa Limited (Armscor), “South African Defense Industry Directory 2002–2003,” Seventh Edition, 2003.
[26] 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, “Directory 2002–2003.”
[27] Alvis OMC, “Company Profile,” 2003; Alvis OMC Website, www.alvisomc.co.za .
[28] GICHD, “Mechanical Demining Equipment Catalogue 2003,” December 2002.
[29] See “7th International Conference on Applications of Nuclear Techniques, Nuclear and Atomic Industrial and Analytical Applications,” Crete, Greece, 17-23 June 2001.
[30] De Wet Potgieter, “Landmyn Tref Ororlogsheld Wat Vrederswerk Doen,” Rapport, 21 July 2002.
[31] Article 7 Report, Form J, 23 April 2004.
[32] Article 7 Reports, Form J, 17 September 2001; 28 May 2002; and 30 April 2003.
[33] Interview with Christo Schutte, Africa Medical Assistance, 2 July 2002.
[34] See Form J, in Article 7 Reports submitted: 23 April 2004, 28 May 2002, 17 September 2001.