Joining foreign armed forces could lead to prosecution, government warns

Monday, December 18, 2023

South Africans have been urged to avoid joining foreign armed forces, which may contribute to the violation of domestic and international law. 

“The South African government is gravely concerned by reports that some South African citizens and permanent residents have joined or are considering joining the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the war in Gaza and the other occupied Palestinian territories,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said on Monday. 

Such action, the department said, can potentially contribute to the violation of international law and the commission of further international crimes, making them liable for prosecution in South Africa. 

In terms of the Regulation of the Foreign Military Assistance Act, the department said any person wishing to render foreign military assistance in Israel must first apply to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). 

The NCACC will then make a recommendation to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans that such an application be granted or refused. 

“Any person joining the IDF without the necessary permission of the NCACC is breaking the law and can be prosecuted,” the department said.

In addition, the department cited the South African Citizenship Act. 

The Act provides that any person who obtained South African citizenship by naturalisation, in terms of the Act, shall cease to be a South African citizen if he or she engages under the flag of another country in a war that the Republic does not support or agree with. 

“It is in this context that South African citizens should be made aware of the consequences of joining the IDF or any foreign armed forces involved in conflicts to prevent inadvertent complicity in international crimes or violations of domestic law,” the department said. –