By Tom Jordan
According to the new South African newspaper The Objector, Douglas Torr, a conscientious objector to military service, had his jail sentence set aside in the Rand Supreme Court on May 20 and will now only have to do community service.
South African legal authorities have stated that imprisonment for refusal to serve in the military is "virtually a thing of the past".
Until recently South Africans who refused to serve in the apartheid army and were caught received vicious prison sentences of up to six years in jail. Often, when they came out of jail, further call-ups were made and they were resentenced to further jail terms. The legal basis for the Supreme Court decision was that South Africa has officially abandoned apartheid, and blacks are not being drafted, so it is no longer legal to draft whites.
-2>The appearance of the newspaper The Objector in itself represents a victory. This project replaces a previous paper, The Resister, which had been coming out for many years, grouping almost all white South Africans who had objected to military service or had begun to resist inside the army. The bilingual English/Afrikaans paper had appeared in London and Amsterdam. With The Objector, the editorial staff have now returned to South Africa.0>
With a highly reactionary all-white general staff, the South African army could easily attempt a putsch against any progressive government not only in South Africa but in neighbouring black states.
Meanwhile, reports from the Philippines and the USA indicate that charges have been dropped against two black personnel on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, charged with attempting to take over the ship and kidnap the captain to stop the bombing of Iraq at the beginning of the air war in January.
Subscriptions to The Objector are available for US$20 from COSG,PO Box 591, Kengray 2100, South Africa. n