Practitioners of military law in South Africa gathered in Pretoria alongside colleagues from other countries for the first international conference on military law in the country.
The conference theme of “contemporary military law” was explored with sub-themes relating to international military law, human rights law, operational law and administration of military justice.
The conference was officially opened by SA National Defence Force Chief, General Solly Shoke. In his opening address he welcomed the opportunity provided by the conference for South African military lawyers to benchmark local approaches with that of other armed forces. He also expressed the wish for the conference to provide a basis for evaluating whether any amendments to military and other legislation may be necessary to empower commanders to instil and maintain military discipline.In a side-bar, the article references problems in military law due to: "Defence Legal Services, the legal arm of the Department of Defence (DoD), did not have a particularly good 2015/16 year because of the non-appointment of military judges. According to the latest DoD annual report a total of 142 litigation cases were received by Defence Legal Services. . . . “This division was not in a position to perform to its full capacity to ensure the backlog of litigation cases were effectively attended to in the best interests of the DoD due to the non-appointment of military judges. The lack of military judges had a carry though effect on all other systems in the military justice system and compromised support for ‘zero tolerance’ on all forms of ill-discipline and abuse and abuse of power,” according to the report."