How to Join the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)

Hollywood has well and truly introduced most of us to the glamorous side of the military. Movies can make the sweat and dust of crawling through the sand with a gun in hand looks so attractive. In reality, though, life in the military has good and bad moments. The friendships you’ll form can last a lifetime, and the team spirit is unmatched in any other profession. 

It is, however, sometimes a hard life, and you have to be tough to go to bed tired but with a smile on your face every night. 

The South African Defence force has built a good reputation for itself over the years. If you consider a military career, it is good to know what it involves before you sign on the dotted line.

Reading through the requirements of joining the South African National Defence Force is an eye-opener. One thing is for sure: it can be a rewarding life, but it can also be challenging.

Requirements for joining the SANDF

The ideal candidate will meet the following requirements:

  • A South African citizen 18 years or older
  • Without any criminal record
  • Who has completed the national senior certificate or in the process of achieving it. 
  • In top physical condition and mentally healthy.
  • Single and not in a relationship. 

The training

Military training in South Africa is physically and mentally testing.

It starts with a two-year basic training programme. There is a bit of a misconception about basic training. Some people will tell you that you cannot fail basic training. That is not true, and about 15% of all candidates do fail. I

n the end, it will boil down to attitude. If you enter the training determined not to give your full cooperation and question every order you get, you are bound to fail. Basic training is a teamwork exercise. It is about building camaraderie. If you do not fit in and blend in, the military environment can become very unpleasant. It is tough to go through basic training alone. It would be best if you had the support of friends. Being Mister Tough Guy will not work. You will get cut down to size.

During the basic training period, you must 

  • Get used to waking up early and being subjected to an inspection to ensure that the room and your uniform are as clean and bright looking as it can be.
  • Consultation sessions to make sure that you are mentally fit.
  • The ability to learn how to use radios, maps, and other tools of the trade.
  • Expect a lot of hard physical training.
  • Expect to be away from home quite a bit.

What are career paths available?

You can choose between being a soldier in the army, air force, navy, health sector, or joining the South African Defence Force Reserves.

How to join

First things first. When you join, you will have to do a two-year training period. You can do that via the Military Skills Development programme. This programme has its main aim to make the country’s citizens ready for deployment even though they may never face military action. This programme can offer you a great start if you are considering a career in the military. It will even give you valuable knowledge and experience in many career paths outside the armed forces world as well. You will find the application form if online.

Career opportunities

The South African military offers many and varying fields of employment, such as

becoming an active soldier, strategic planner, communications expert, working in human resources, or taking on a leadership role. 

Military training experience can also offer many options as well should you prefer to in the private sector and not remain in the military.

Joining the reserves.

 The if SANDF reserves are the leg of the defence force that concentrates on guidance and assistance. They are in the background, ready and present should the need arise to call on them. 

Joining the reserves is an opportunity to serve your country without being an active soldier. It provides the hands, knowledge, and expertise to lend a hand to people in need when disaster strikes.

Members of the reserves qualify for all the benefits received by their fighting force counterparts. These include  

  • Payment.
  • Medical fund
  • And access to facilities of the SANDF.

They also have to meet the same requirements to be accepted.

After you have completed your two years of service, the SANDF may offer you a five-year contract to serve in the reserves. The SANDF can renew this contract until you are 65 years of age.  

You can become a member of the reserves by signing up through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS), or you may be recruited directly.

Only people with special skills such as IT specialists, engineers, diesel mechanics, etc., have a chance of being recruited directly.

If you are fit and young and have the right attitude, a career in the SANDF may be the ideal fit for you.