The Defense Amendment Bill, designed to make military service compulsory for White young men, was passed on 9 June 1967 - with the support of the opposition.
Conscription was instituted in South Africa in the form of 9 months of service for all white males between the ages of 17 and 65 years old. Conscripts became members of the South African Defense Force (SADF), or the South African Police (SAP). They were used to enforce the government's stance against liberation movements, anti-apartheid activists and the 'communist threat'.
In 1972, conscription (national service) was increased from 9 months to 1 year, as well as 19 days of service annually for 5 years as part of the Citizen Force.
By the middle of 1974, control of northern Namibia was handed over to the South African Defense Force (SADF) from the South African Police (SAP), and in 1975, the SADF invaded Angola. To keep up with operational demands, Citizen Force members were then required to complete 3 month tours of duty.
In 1977, conscription was once again increased, this time to 2 years and 30 days annually for 8 years. Due to an increase in guerilla activity in the early 1980's, camps were once again lengthened in 1982 to 720 days in total.
A movement in South Africa began in 1983 to co-ordinate various groups in the country who campaigned against conscription and encouraged conscientious objection. This group was called the End Conscription Campaign (ECC).
The ECC had wide support - students, religious groups, and even the United Nations. Activities of the ECC were curtailed by the South African Apartheid government from 1988 - 89, but restrictions were lifted in 1990 as part of the move towards multi-racial government.
• Boddy-Evans, A.End Conscription Campaign, ECC (South Africa) [online] Available at: africanhistory.about.com [Accessed 1 June 2009]
Dear friends of SAHO
South African History Online (SAHO) needs your support.
SAHO is one of the most visited websites in South Africa with over 6 million unique users a year. Our goal is to fulfill our mandate and continue to build, and make accessible, a new people’s history of South Africa and Africa.
Please help us deliver this by contributing upwards of $1.00 a month for the next 12 months.