The Union Defence Force was created in 1912 and served as the South African Army. It was renamed as the South African Defence Force (SADF) by the passing of the Defence Act (No. 44) of 1957. Subdivisions included the Army, Air Force and the Navy. Service in any of these divisions was restricted to White South African males.
Prior to the Amendment Act, military service was voluntary. However, on 4 August 1967, military conscription became compulsory for all White men in South Africa over the age of 16. Deferment to complete schooling or a university degree was granted, but hardly any White men were exempt from conscription.
Conscripts formed part of the SADF and their services were largely used to uphold the apartheid regime. They fought against liberation movements in Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, and were often deployed to townships to quell anti-apartheid action.
In 1983, the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) was formed to end compulsory military service. By 1985, the ECC held a "Troops out of Townships" rally, in which the White dissatisfaction with the apartheid government and their policy on conscription was made clear.
The government responded by banning the ECC in 1988. However, the following year the length of conscription had been shortened, and in 1993, the end of conscription was announced.
The SADF was replaced by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994.
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