The Defence Force

Napoleon is a name that many people will think of as a trade mark for certain brandy (and they are correct) and perhaps a few more will recognise the name as belonging to some figure in history. Well, Napoleon Bonaparte is considered to have been one of the world’s greatest military leaders, who revolutionised military organization and training. Before he turned 30, Napoleon had commanded the French army to stunning military victories over Austria, Italy, and Egypt. He may well have continued to sweep the combined might of many other European nations before him, but for a miscalculation over a campaign to Russia. Its bitter winter killed off hundreds of thousands of French soldiers without them seeing a sword-blade or hearing a musket shot. Napoleon finally met his demise at the famous battle of Waterloo in 1815.

However, he was not only a military genius and a persuasive orator, but a statesman. As the first Emperor of France, Napoleon reorganized education, and instituted what is known as the Napoleonic Code – a codification of the civil laws of France which was so successful that its terms form the main basis for the civil law codes of many other countries in Europe and North America.1

Much of what the charismatic Napoleon achieved was based on his personal power. At only 1.57m tall, he proved that it is the size of the fight in the dog, not the size of the dog in the fight…

Nowadays, defence forces are governed – at least, in politically stable countries – by laws and regulations. After all, a national defence force exists for the good of the country and its citizens. In South Africa, the Defence Act 2002 provides for the establishment of the National Defence Force of the Republic, its governance, and all matters connected therewith.

A. Uniform, titles and symbols

  1. It is a crime to possess the uniforms, distinctive marks or crests of the Defence Force except if you are authorised to do so.2

  2. It is also a crime to wear the uniforms, distinctive marks or crests without authority.3

  3. If you do anything which is prohibited whilst wearing such uniform, crests or marks it is also an offence.4

  4. If you use any name, title, or symbol of the Department of Defence in a way which pretends that you are authorised to do so it is a crime.5

B. Government property and money

  1. To mark any equipment, article or animal (‘property’) indicating that it is the property of the Republic (or of a visiting force) is a crime.6

  2. It is also a crime to conceal or deface any mark on such property which indicates that it is the property of the Republic or of a visiting force.7

  3. If you dispose of any property belonging to the Department of Defence without authorization, you commit a criminal offence.8

  4. It is a crime to lose any Department property through negligence.9

  5. It is a crime to damage, obstruct, remove, destroy, or commit any act on or against property used for protecting or safeguarding the Republic.10

  6. The Department of Defence has under its possession and control a lot of property and, at any one time, also cash. The following are all offences in relation to this property and State money:
    • sell, barter, lend, pledge or otherwise dispose of it;11
    • abandon, damage or destroy it;12
    • take or remove it from its designated place; 13
    • uses it for any purpose other than the public interest;14
    • omit to take action to prevent loss or damage to it;15 or
    • commit any act likely to cause loss or damage to it.16
  7. If you are responsible for stores, stock or money, you commit a criminal offence if you negligently cause a deficiency in such stores, stock, or money.17

  8. It is also an offence to fail to take steps to prevent unauthorised, irregular, fruitless or wasteful expenditure.18

  9. Certain employees of the Department are tasked with collecting revenue due to the Department. If you are one of them, and through your negligence you under-collect what is owed, you commit a crime.19

  10. Certain employees are tasked with procurement. If they agree to pay an exorbitant price for goods or services they commit an offence. It is also an offence to conspire to do this.20

C. Defence Force members and labour relations

  1. Any person who discriminates against an employee on the grounds that he is, or wishes to become, a member of the Defence Force is guilty of an offence.21

  2. It is a crime to pretend falsely to be a member of the Defence Force, or to be an employee of the Department of Defence.22

  3. It is a crime to recruit (or try to recruit) a member of the Defence Force to join any trade union other than a military trade union.23

  4. Anyone who incites a member of the Defence Force to participate in any strike, demonstration or protest which is forbidden by Regulation commits a criminal offence.24

  5. It is also a crime to participate in any strike or secondary strike action if you are a member of the Defence Force or of any auxiliary service.25

  6. As a member of the Defence Force you must notify certain officers of your address and certain other particulars. If you change your address, or those other details, it is a crime not to notify the prescribed officer in the manner required by regulation.26

D. Defence Force members’ duties

  1. It is a criminal offence to interfere with the Defence Force in the execution of its duties.27

  2. Any person who tries to persuade or who does induce a member of the Defence Force not to perform, or to act in conflict with his duties is guilty of an offence.28

  3. Sometimes people are obliged by a military service contract to render services to the Defence Force. It is a crime to breach those obligations.29

  4. It is a crime for any member of the Defence Force (or an employee of the Department) either verbally or physically to denigrate, show aversion or hostility, or humiliate any other person (whether a member, employee or civilian) on the grounds of his:

    • race;
    • gender;
    • sex;
    • pregnancy;
    • marital status;
    • ethnicity;
    • social origin;
    • colour;
    • sexual orientation;
    • age;
    • disability;
    • religion;
    • conscience;
    • belief;
    • culture;
    • language; or
    • birth.30

E. Classified facilities, computer systems, and information

  1. It is a criminal offence to disclose the identity of a covert source (i.e. a ‘spy’) of the Department.31

  2. If anyone enters or gains access to classified facilities or installations without authorization he commits an offence.32

  3. It is a crime to gain access to, or collect classified information.33

  4. Similarly, accessing instrumentation of the Department without authorization is also a crime.34

  5. If you fly over a classified facility, installation or instrument of the Department without authorization you are guilty of a criminal offence.35

  6. If you are in possession of, or in any way whatsoever record or reproduce data from classified installations, facilities or instruments you commit a crime.36

  7. If you in anyway whatsoever pass on that data, or obtain it from another, or lose it, or disclose it, you commit a crime.37

  8. If information has been classified in terms of the Act, it is a crime to disclose it or publish it in any way (including just by gesturing).38

  9. It is an offence to gain access to any computer system or database of the Department of Defence if you do not have authorization.39

  10. It is also a crime to change, copy, corrupt or withdraw data from such systems or databases.40

F. Piracy

  1. Any member of the crew of a warship, Government ship, Government aircraft or military aircraft which has mutinied and taken control of the craft commits an act of piracy which is a criminal offence.41

G. Boards of enquiry

  1. The Compensation Board exists to investigate the payment of compensation to members in case of injury or disability as a result of training or service under the Act. For the purposes of its investigation, it can issue summons and require the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and articles. It is an offence:
    • to fail to comply with a summons; and
    • to fail to produce books, documents, or things required by the summons.42
  2. It is also an offence to make a false statement in any application for compensation.43

  3. There are also Exemption Boards. These investigate applications for exemption or deferment from the whole or any part of training or service. They too have wide powers. If you are summoned to attend and give evidence, or to produce a document or thing, you commit an offence if:
    • you fail to attend at the place and time specified in the summons;
    • you fail to remain in attendance until the conclusion of the enquiry (or you are excused);
    • you fail to produce any book, document or thing which you have been summoned to produce.44
  4. It is also an offence if you attend but:
    • refuse to be sworn in (or make an affirmation regarding the truth of your evidence);
    • fail or refuse properly to answer any lawful question;45
    • give false evidence.46
  5. It is a crime deliberately to mislead any board of enquiry.47
  1. See – ‘Napoleon’. 70 countries around the world have codified their civil laws along Napoleonic lines. 

  2. Section 104(5). 

  3. Ibid

  4. Ibid

  5. Section 104(6). 

  6. Obviously, if this is without authorization. Section 104(2). 

  7. Ibid

  8. Section 104(3). 

  9. Ibid

  10. Section 104(4). 

  11. Section 104(20)(a)i. 

  12. Section 104(20)(a)iii. 

  13. Section 104(20)(a)v. 

  14. Section 104(20)(a)vi. 

  15. Section 104(20)(a)vii. 

  16. Section 104(20)(a)viii. 

  17. Section 104(20)(a)iv. 

  18. Section 104(20)(a)ix. 

  19. Section 104(20)(a)x. 

  20. Section 104(20)(a)ii. 

  21. Section 104(1). 

  22. Section 104(9). 

  23. Section 104(13). 

  24. Ibid

  25. Section 104(14). 

  26. Section 104(18). 

  27. Section 104(10). 

  28. Section 104(11). 

  29. Section 104(12). 

  30. Section 105(1). 

  31. Section 104(16). 

  32. Section 104(19)(a)i. 

  33. Section 104(19)(a)i. 

  34. Section 104(19)(a)i. 

  35. Section 104(19)(a)i. 

  36. Section 104(19)(a)ii. 

  37. Section 104(19)(a)iii. 

  38. Section 104(7). 

  39. Section 104(8). 

  40. Section 104(8). 

  41. Section 24(2) read with section 24(1). 

  42. Section 57(13) (a)–(b). 

  43. Section 57(13)(c). 

  44. Section 69(1). 

  45. Section 69(2). 

  46. Section 69(3). 

  47. Section 104(22).