South Africa

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 27 July 2019

Summary: State Party South Africa ratified the convention on 28 May 2015. It has participated in every meeting of the convention. South Africa voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2018.

South Africa provided an initial transparency report in 2017 confirming that it produced and imported cluster munitions in the past. It declared a stockpile of 1,495 cluster munitions and 99,465 submunitions, of which 139 cluster munitions and 78,994 submunitions or components were destroyed in or by September 2012.

Policy

The Republic of South Africa signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 28 May 2015, and theconvention entered into force for the country on 1 November 2015.

South Africa reported in 2017 that it does not plan to enact specific implementing legislation as it regards the Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act as sufficient to enforce the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[1]

South Africa submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the convention on 8 September 2017.[2] As of July 2019, it has not provided any annual updated reports, which are due by 30 April each year. Timely submission of the report is a legal obligation.

South Africa participated throughout the Oslo Process that created the convention and its policy evolved to support a comprehensive ban on cluster munitions.[3] It hosted a regional meeting on the convention in Pretoria in March 2010.

South Africa ratified the convention in May 2015, after it was approved by the National Council of Provinces on 18 November 2014.[4]

South Africa has participated in every meeting of the convention, most recently the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018.[5]

South Africa voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[6] South Africa has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

In October 2018, South Africa expressed concern at new use of cluster munitions in some countries.[7] It has condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria several times since 2013, when it said “we deplore any use of cluster munitions by any State including the alleged recent use of cluster munitions in Syria, which has led to a number of casualties including women and children.”[8]

South Africa has not elaborated its views on several important issues relating to its interpretation and implementation of the convention, including the prohibition on transit, the prohibition on assistance during joint military operations with states not party that may use cluster munitions, the prohibition on foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions, and the prohibition on investment in production of cluster munitions.

South Africa is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use

There is little to no public information available on South Africa’s past use of cluster munitions.

Production

South Africa produced cluster munitions in the past.[9] South African company Denel manufactured two types of air-dropped bombs:

  • A CB-470 aerial cluster bomb containing 40 Alpha submunitions, which was apparently produced only for export.
  • A 255kg aircraft bomb containing 247 submunitions.

Denel also manufactured two types of 155mm artillery projectiles:

  • An M2001 155mm artillery projectile, containing 42 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions with self-destruct features.[10]
  • An M2001 155mm artillery projectile labeled “2201102,” which also contains 42 DPICM submunitions with self-destruct devices.

South Africa’s transparency report section on its decommissioning of production facilities states: “None. Production ceased in 2012 at Rheinmetall, denel [sic].”[11] This indicates that the production of cluster munitions at Denel’s facilities in South Africa apparently did not cease until 2012, four years after South Africa signed the convention in December 2008. As a signatory, South Africa is bound by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties not to engage in acts that “would defeat the object and purpose” of any treaty it signed.

German company Rheinmetall Defence acquired four Denel divisions in 2008 and is the majority owner of Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd. in South Africa, which still advertises 155mm artillery ammunition for sale.[12] Rheinmetall Denel Munition did not respond to Cluster Munition Monitor’s 2018 request to clarify if it produced cluster munitions in 2008–2012.[13]

Transfer

It is not clear if South Africa exported or otherwise transferred the cluster munitions that it produced, but several countries have reported South African-made munitions. Iraq reportedly acquired the CB-470 in the late 1980s.[14] Deminers in Zambia and Mozambique have cleared unexploded Alpha submunitions.[15] Peru destroyed 290 Alpha submunitions from its stocks in 2018.[16]

South Africa acknowledged possession of an aerial cluster bomb called TIEKIE in 2005, but said it was for training use only.[17]

Stockpiling

South Africa once stockpiled at least 1,495 cluster munitions and 99,465 submunitions. In September 2017, it reported a stockpile of 1,485 cluster munitions and 99,465 submunitions comprised of two types of air-dropped bombs and two types of 155mm artillery projectiles. It also reported another 10 CB-470 bombs that were destroyed.

Cluster munition stockpiled by South Africa[18]

Type

Quantity (submunitions)

225kg aircraft bomb, each containing 247 submunitions

179 (44,213)

2201104 – 155 mm artillery projectile, each containing 42 submunitions

436 (18,312)

2201102 – 155 mm artillery projectile, each containing 42 submunitions

870 (36,540)

CB-470 aircraft bomb, each containing 40 submunitions

10 (400)

Total

1,485 (99,465)

 

Stockpile destruction

Under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, South Africa is required to destroy all stockpiled cluster munitions under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but no later than 1 November 2023.

At the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in September 2018, South Africa reiterated its intent to destroy the cluster munition stockpile by the November 2023 deadline.[19] In 2016, South Africa informed States Parties that its cluster munition stocks had been taken out of commission and “ring-fenced for planned disposal.”[20]

South Africa destroyed 139 cluster munitions and 78,994 submunitions or components previously held by Rheinmetall Denel Munition via open detonation/open burning at Alkantpan by or on 12 September 2012:

  • 129 individual submunitions for 155mm artillery projectiles;
  • 78,594 components for submunitions used for 155mm artillery projectiles;
  • 108 155mm projectiles; and
  • 10 CB-470 Alpha cluster bombs, each containing 40 submunitions.[21]

South Africa did not indicate in September 2018 if it had destroyed more stockpiled cluster munitions since then and last detailed its stockpile destruction progress in a transparency report since 2017.

Retention

In 2017, South Africa reported that it does not intend to retain any cluster munitions for research or training purposes.[22]


[1] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 8 September 2017. South Africa has not amended the Mine Ban Treaty implementing legislation to incorporate specific provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act 2003 prohibits South African forces from assisting a state not party to the Mine Ban Treaty with any activity prohibited under the treaty and includes “transit” under its definition of transfers. It also imposes penal sanctions for violation of the law, including imprisonment for individuals and fines for individuals and corporations. See, Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act, No. 36 of 2003, 5 December 2003.

[2] The report was originally due by 29 April 2016. It covers activities in calendar year 2015. See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, 8 September 2017.

[3] For details on South Africa’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 153–156.

[4] National Council of Provinces, “Minutes of Proceedings,” 18 November 2014. This followed a report issued on 16 October 2014 and approval by the National Assembly on 12 March 2014. See, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, “Announcements, Tablings, and Committee Reports,” 16 October 2014; and Republic of South Africa, “Minutes of Proceedings of National Assembly,” 12 March 2014.

[5] South Africa has attended every Meeting of States Parties, the First Review Conference in 2015, and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

[7] Statement of South Africa, UN First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 29 October 2018. In October 2016 and October 2017, South Africa called on states that have not yet done so to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as possible and condemn the use of cluster munitions. Statement of South Africa, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 3 October 2017; statement of South Africa, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 20 October 2017; statement of South Africa, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 October 2016; and statement of South Africa, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 20 October 2016.

[8] Statement of South Africa, Lomé Regional Seminar on the Universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Lomé, Togo, 23 May 2013.

[9] In 2005, the Department of Foreign Affairs stated, “The South African Defence Force has manufactured and used submunitions in the past, which have been phased out, and is in the process of developing newer generations of submunitions.” Communication from the South African Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament to Pax Christi Netherlands, 19 January 2005.

[10] Denel, “Land Systems, Artillery Systems, 155 mm Towed/SP Gun-Howitzer,” undated; and Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), p. 665. In 2005, South Africa stated that “in the 155mm product line, a back-up self-destruct pyrotechnical feature is incorporated into the fuze which separates the detonation train from the main charge.” Communication from the South African Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament to Pax Christi Netherlands, 19 January 2005.

[12]Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd,” Rheinmetall Defence, 2018. Rheinmetall Defence acquired Denel’s Somchem, Swartklip, Boksburg, and Naschem divisions. While Rheinmetall Defence is the majority shareholder in Rheinmetall Denel Munition, Denel holds 49% of the shares.

[13] Letter from Cluster Munition Monitor to Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd., 6 July 2018.

[14]Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 440.

[15] Email from Dr. Robert E. Mtonga, Coordinator, Zambian Campaign to Ban Landmines, 10 February 2009. It is unclear what type of cluster munition was used to deliver the submunitions, who used them, or when, but the Alpha submunition is most often associated with the South African CB-470 cluster bomb. Statement of Mozambique, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 15 September 2011. Jane’s Information Group reports that the Alpha bomblet developed for the South African CB-470 cluster bomb was produced by Rhodesia (the predecessor of Zimbabwe), and that “Zimbabwe may have quantities of the Alpha bomblet.” Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 440.

[16] Email from César Arestegui, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Peru to International Organizations in Geneva, 24 May 2019.

[17] Communication from the South African Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament to Pax Christi Netherlands, 19 January 2005.

[19] Statement of South Africa, Convention on Cluster Munitions Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 September 2018.

[20] Statement of South Africa, Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, September 2016.

[21] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form E, 8 September 2017.

[22] Ibid., Form C. South Africa marked “None” for cluster munition type and “N/A” for quantity in every section of Form C.