All You Should Know About South African National Defence Force (SANDF)

Just like almost every other country in the world today that has an organized force primarily for warfare, South Africa has its own armed forces called the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). According to the 1993 Constitution of South Africa which created it as a replacement for the previously existing South African Defence Force, SANDF is saddled with the responsibility of defending the country against external and internal threats, among other things.

South African National Defence Force History

SANDF was created in 1994 to replace the South African Defence Force (SADF) which had served as the country’s main armed forces from 1957.

With it existing during the apartheid government of the country, SADF was composed of only white South Africans. Black South Africans and those of mixed race or of Asian descent were only allowed to join in a voluntary capacity. This was befitting because the main role of the SADF at the time was to quell opposition from South Africans against the apartheid government. It was also used during the South African border and Namibian independence conflicts when it launched an attack in the Omugulugwombashe SWAPO guerilla force training camp.

Since it was a creation of the apartheid government, the SADF dissolved with the apartheid government in 1994, when South Africa held its first democratic elections and adopted a new constitution, thus bringing about the existence of the SANDF.

After its formation, the South African National Defence Force became open to all South Africans that meet the necessary requirements. It then took over the equipment of the SADF as well as its personnel and further went ahead to incorporate forces of the former Bantustan homeland forces as well as those of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the African National Congress’ guerilla force. Other guerillas that were integrated were the Pan Africanist Congress’ Azanian People’s Liberation Army after it was disbanded in 1994 and the Self-Protection Units of the Inkatha Freedom Party.


SANDF is made up of four service branches; the South African Army, the South African Navy, the South African Air Force, and the South African Military Health Service. These branches are coordinated by the Joint Operations Division, which also oversees the operations of the South African Special Forces Brigade.

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Overall command of the force is vested in an officer-designated Chief of the South African National Defence Force (CSANDF) who is appointed by the President of South Africa from any of the Arms of Service. The CSANDF then goes on to answer to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans who heads the Department of Defence.

Functions of SANDF

The functions of the Force as stipulated is strictly defending the country in times of war as well as fulfilling the treaty obligations of the country. It also serves to check internal disorder by preventing and suppressing it. Also, preserving life, health, and property, as well as maintenance of essential services, are part of its functions.

Some of the domestic operations SANDF is involved in include safeguarding South Africa’s borders (Code Name: Operation CORONA), ensuring safety and security, (Code Name: Operation Prosper), providing disaster relief and assistance (Code Name: Operation CHARIOT), and ensuring that illegal weapons, drugs, prostitution rings and other groups carrying out illegal activities are ridden off the country (Code Name: Operation FIELA).

SANDF is as well involved in some international military activities. It takes part in United Nations peacekeeping missions in other African countries.

South African National Defence Force
South African National Defence Force Women’s Parade (image source)

See Also: South African Special Forces: Salary, World Rating and Weapons

Vacancies and Applications to South African National Defence Force

Recruitment by the force is usually widely announced in the news and advertised on the website of the country’s Department of Defence.

As is the case with the military of any other country in the world, only young citizens of South Africa are allowed to apply. These applicants also have to be fit and healthy to be evaluated for a place in any of the service branches. Applicants with physical disabilities are advised to apply for vacancies in the civilian careers of the Department of defense.

Following a successful application, newly recruited personnel are required to serve for a 2 year period to augment the force’s deployment capability. At the expiry of the two years, recruits are moved to the National Defence Force while the remaining are moved to the Reserve Force.

SANDF Application forms are gotten on the Defence department’s website.

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Andile Smith
Andile Smith
Andile provides articles on anything from Politics, Sports, History and entertainment to funny, creepy and weird. His passion for writing allows him to take what is ordinary and transform it into a real masterpiece. He's a true storyteller with a passion for tech and literature
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