South Africans Serving in the British Army

I noticed the following on Yahoo news yesterday.

S.Africa passes controversial mercenaries bill
Tuesday August 29, 06:18 PM

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa passed an anti-mercenaries law on Tuesday that could bar thousands of its nationals from working for security companies in global hotspots such as Iraq and in other national armies.
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota told lawmakers before the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority that one of the intentions of the measure was to stop local mercenaries "subverting democracy" across Africa.
The government wants to stop civilians and former soldiers -- many trained in the apartheid army -- from fighting or offering security services after South Africans were found to be involved in a number of attempted coups and conflicts in Africa.
"Mercenaries are the scourge of poor areas of the world, especially Africa," Lekota said.
"Killers for hire, they rent out their skills to the highest bidder regardless of the political agenda," he said.
But critics say the bill is too wide-ranging and could affect civilians involved in legitimate security work and in other military services, including the British army.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has estimated at least 4,000 South Africans are employed in conflict areas around the world, but the actual number may be closer to 20,000.
The bill requires citizens working as security personnel to seek permission from the government and allows certain conflict countries to be declared regulated zones.
The law, which must still be approved by parliament's second house and President Thabo Mbeki, has been widely criticised for infringing on South Africans' rights to freedom of employment.
The British High Commissioner to South Africa appealed for changes to provisions that would impact on about 800 former South African soldiers working in British forces.
Lekota said the last two decades had seen the emergence of a global trade in hired guns.
"A number of human rights abuses have been committed by some firms and in many instances their operations have led to a rise in internal tensions and sometimes even military coups in certain states," he said.
About 2,000 South Africans, many trained as soldiers in the apartheid-era military force, are believed to be working in the security sector in Iraq. Several have been killed there.
Lekota said the government was also concerned South Africans could end up fighting for foreign armies in conflicts that contravened international law or Pretoria's foreign policy.
Former South African soldiers were linked to a foiled coup plot in the oil-rich west African state of Equatorial Guinea and in the past were hired as private soldiers in conflict-ridden Sierra Leone.
The proposed Bill is, I believe, grossly unconstitutional and should not be passed. However, I have a strong suspicion that it will be.

As a holder of dual South African/British Citizenship and a serving soldier in the TA I was wondering whether there is an official line on this. Where will I, and the hundreds of other South Africans in the British Army, stand should this come to pass?


I was under the impression that was passed into law the other week. The British High Commissioner tried to intervene and, I believe, made a speech at the SA parliament asking for an exception for HM Forces.

I assume that unless there is some 'preserved rights' provision (which I doubt) SA citizens in HMF will have to choose between their country and their job. I would guess that as a dual nationality person, you will have the right to serve with HMF.

Maybe the UK Government will continue to lobby for an exception for HMF.
Hi Fred_Cat,

I believe the Defence Committee passed the bill a couple of weeks back. It was at this session that the High Commissioner requested that personnel in the British Army be exempt (and was largely ignored!).

The Bill was approved by Parliament yesterday and still needs to be approved by the Second House and the President. I'm not fully offay with the parliamentary process but I feel that it will be passed. The South African government seems to have planted it's flag in the "anti-west" camp and accordingly would like to see this made law so that there aren't any conflicts of interests arising from it's citizens serving in foreign militaries.

It does present an interesting problem. Holding dual citizenship I could at least opt to either rescind my South African Citizenship or leave the armed forces. Neither option is particularly appealing. However, for those who are serving and hold only South African Citizenship (I believe this is possible with work permits, permanent resisdency and the like) the only option they would have would be to leave the armed forces.

It does seem a bit crazy that the retrospective nature of the law could criminalise someone for something they did quite legally.


Its about time the UK Govt recognised all foreign nationals serving in our Armed Forces with full UK citizenship after 3 years served (or discharge before three years if injured on duty).
Hey guys,

I am trying to get in touch with a Saffa serving in British Mil, saw on the threads that there are indeed a few out there.

If you know a Saffa serving, what would it take to get in touch with him / her ?

Please guys, response will be highly appreciated..


Kit Reviewer
Knowing his name would be a good start.

Or do you work at Binnelandse Sake & just want a list of those serving ?


Kit Reviewer

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