Ten-Year Review: State Party South Africa ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 28 May 2015. It has participated in every meeting of the convention, most recently in September 2019. South Africa has expressed concern at new use of cluster munitions, and voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2019.
South Africa provided an initial Article 7 transparency report in 2017, which formally confirmed that it produced and imported cluster munitions in the past, and once had a stockpile of 1,495 cluster munitions and 99,465 submunitions. South Africa destroyed 139 cluster munitions and 78,994 submunitions from its stocks before September 2012, but none were destroyed in 2013–2019.
The Republic of South Africa signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 and ratified it on 28 May 2015. The convention entered into force for the country on 1 November 2015.
South Africa has not enacted specific implementing legislation as it regards the Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act as sufficient to enforce the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The National Council of Provinces enacted ratification legislation for the convention in November 2014.
South Africa submitted an initial Article 7 transparency report for the convention on 8 September 2017. As of August 2020, it has not provided any updated annual Article 7 reports, which are due by 30 April each year. South Africa told States Parties in September 2019, that it was preparing to provide the outstanding transparency reports.
South Africa participated throughout the Oslo Process that created the convention, and its policy evolved to support a comprehensive ban on cluster munitions. It hosted a regional meeting on the convention in Pretoria in March 2010.
South Africa has attended every meeting of the convention, most recently the Ninth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2019, where it provided an update on stockpile destruction.
In December 2019, South Africa voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urged all States Parties to provide “complete and timely information” to promote transparency and compliance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions. South Africa has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.
South Africa has expressed concern at new use of cluster munitions. 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.”
South Africa has not elaborated its views on several important issues related to the interpretation and implementation of the convention, including the prohibitions on transit, assistance during joint military operations with states not party that may use cluster munitions, foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions, and investment in the 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 (CCW).
There is little to no public information available on South Africa’s past use of cluster munitions.
South Africa produced cluster munitions in the past.
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.
- 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].” 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. Rheinmetall Denel Munition never responded to Cluster Munition Monitor’s 2018 request to clarify whether it actually produced cluster munitions in 2008–2012.
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. Demining operators in Mozambique and Zambia have cleared unexploded Alpha submunitions. In addition, Peru destroyed 290 Alpha submunitions from its stocks in 2018.
South Africa once stockpiled at least 1,495 cluster munitions and 99,465 submunitions. In September 2017, it reported a stockpile comprised of two types of air-dropped bombs and two types of 155mm artillery projectiles, and also disclosed that it had previously destroyed 10 CB-470 bombs.
Cluster munitions once stockpiled by South Africa
Quantity stockpiled (submunitions)
225kg aircraft bomb, each containing 247 submunitions
2201104 – 155mm artillery projectile, each containing 42 submunitions
2201102 – 155mm artillery projectile, each containing 42 submunitions
CB-470 aircraft bomb, each containing 40 submunitions
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.
In September 2019, South Africa told States Parties that it is “fully committed” to completing the destruction of its cluster munition stocks by the November 2023 deadline. Previously, in 2016, South Africa said that its cluster munitions had been taken out of commission and “ring-fenced for planned disposal.”
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. The destroyed munitions included:
- 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.
South Africa last detailed progress towards stockpile destruction in its 2017 Article 7 transparency report.
In 2017, South Africa reported that it does not intend to retain any cluster munitions for research or training purposes.
 Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 8 September 2017. South Africa has not amended its Mine Ban Treaty national 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.
 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.
 The report covers activities in calendar year 2015. It was originally due by 29 April 2016.
 Timely submission of Article 7 transparency reports is a legal obligation for States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The report should be emailed to the UN Secretary-General via the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see, Convention on Cluster Munitions, ‘‘Reporting,’’ undated.
 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.
 Statement of South Africa, Convention on Cluster Munitions Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 2 September 2019. South Africa has attended every Meeting of States Parties, the First Review Conference in 2015, and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/62, 12 December 2019.
 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. See, 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.
 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.
 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: Jane’s Information Group, 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.
 Rheinmetall Defence, “Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd,” undated. 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.
 Letter from Cluster Munition Monitor to Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd., 6 July 2018.
 Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 440.
 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; and 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: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), p. 440.
 Email from César Arestegui, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Peru to International Organizations in Geneva, 24 May 2019.
 Statement of South Africa, Convention on Cluster Munitions Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 2 September 2019. South Africa had expressed its intent to meet the November 2023 deadline at the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in September 2018. Statement of South Africa, Convention on Cluster Munitions Eighth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 September 2018.