Military Wiki
South African National Defence Force
File:SANDF emblem.jpg
Current form 1994
Service branches South African Army
South African Navy
South African Air Force
File:SAMHS Logo.gif South African Military Health Service
Headquarters Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Commander-in-Chief Jacob Zuma
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Solly Shoke
Military age 18-49
Available for
military service
10 354 769 males, age 18-49 (2005),
10 626 550 females, age 18-49 (2005)
Fit for
military service
4 927 757 males, age 18-49 (2005),
4 609 071 females, age 18-49 (2005)
Reaching military
age annually
512 407 males (2005),
506 078 females (2005)
Active personnel 88,563 (2012/13)[1]
Budget $US 4.572 billion[2]
Percent of GDP 1.1% (2010-2011)
Domestic suppliers Denel, Reutech Radar Systems, Thales, Paramount Group
Foreign suppliers BAE Systems, Saab AB, ThyssenKrupp, AgustaWestland
Related articles
History Military history of South Africa
List of wars involving South Africa
Ranks South African military ranks

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comprises the armed forces of South Africa. The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President of South Africa from one of the armed services. They are in turn accountable to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of the Defence Department.

The military as it exists today was created in 1994,[3][4] following South Africa's first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution. It replaced the South African Defence Force.


The SANDF took over the personnel and equipment from the SADF and integrated forces from the former Bantustan homelands forces,[5] as well as personnel from the former guerrilla forces of some of the political parties involved in South Africa, such as the African National Congress's Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Pan Africanist Congress's Azanian People's Liberation Army and the Self-Protection Units of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).[3]

As of 2004, the integration process was considered complete, with the integrated personnel having been incorporated into a slightly modified structure very similar to that of the SADF, with the latter's structure and equipment for the most part being retained. However, due to integration problems, financial constraints, and other issues, the SANDF was facing capability constraints.'[6]

The South African Commando System was a territorial militia active until 2008, based upon local units from the size of company to battalion. In its final years its role was to support the South African Police in internal security, During such deployments the units came under Police control.


In 1999 a US$4.8 billion (R30 billion in 1999 rands) purchase of weaponry by the South African Government was finalised, which has been subject to allegations of corruption.[7][8] The South African Department of Defence's Strategic Defence Acquisition purchased frigates, submarines, light utility helicopters, lead-in fighter trainers and advanced light fighter aircraft.

Current Role

The SANDF plays a role in peacekeeping mostly on the African continent through the United Nations as well as providing election observers from time to time.

Internal Operations

The SANDF is involved in a number of internal operations, including:[9]

  • Safeguarding the Border (Operation CORONA)
  • Disaster relief and assistance (Operation CHARIOT)
  • Safety and security (Operation PROSPER)
  • Security for the 2013 African Cup Of Nations (Operation PHEFO)

Organisation and structure

Overall command is vested in an officer designated Chief of the SANDF (CSANDF). Appointed from any of the Arms of Service and the only person in the SANDF at the rank of General or Admiral, he is accountable to the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, who heads up the Department of Defence

The structure of the SANDF is depicted below:[10] SANDF Structure.jpg

Four armed services make up the forces of the SANDF:[11]

The Joint Operations Division is responsible for co-ordinating all Joint Operations involving any or all of the four services. The South African Special Forces Brigade is a separate special forces unit under the direct command of the Joint Operations division.[12]

See also

Further reading


  1. "South Africa". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 200 of 1993 (Section 224)". South African Government. 1993. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  4. L B van Stade (1997). "Rationalisation in the SANDF: The Next Challenge". Institute for Security Studies. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  6. U.S. Embassy The Hague, 05THEHAGUE2973 Netherlands/Africa: DASD Whelan's visit to The Hague, 1 November 2005, via Wikileaks United States diplomatic cables leak
  7. Buthelezi, Mangosuthu (22 November 2007). "Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Weekly Newsletter to the Nation". Inkatha Freedom Party. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  8. Bright hopes betrayed Mail & Guardian
  9. "C J OPS Briefs Media on Deployments". Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  11. "Defence Act 42 of 2002". South African Government. 2003-02-12. p. 18. Archived from the original on 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  12. "Fact file: The Joint Operations Division". DefenceWeb. 2008-11-28. Retrieved 2013-03-13. 

External links

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