Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Eat my call up

EAT MY CALL-UP, directed by Naashon Zalk, tells the story of four men who, facing lengthy jail terms, refused to "serve" in the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the 1980's.

From 1967 until 1993 all white males were conscripted into the SADF. The influence of the military increased dramatically after Angola and Mozambique’s independence in 1975 and the Soweto uprising in 1976. The SADF invaded Angola and destabilised much of Southern Africa. In 1984 the army was deployed into the townships, during the first State of Emergency. The penalty for refusing the call-up was a jail sentence of up to six years without parole. In response the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) was launched in 1983.

In 1980 Dr. Ivan Toms built a clinic in Crossroads squatter settlement, near Cape Town. He was the only doctor serving its 60 000 residents. After witnessing the army and police’s brutality in Crossroads he refused to return to the army. In 1988 he was sentenced to 21 months in jail and spent nine months in Pollsmoor prison, seven of those in solitary confinement.

Marius van Niekerk was a Special Forces “parabat”. Fresh out of school, he was deployed in Angola, Rhodesia and Mozambique in 1979 and 1980. Suffering from severe war trauma he went into exile in Sweden rather than go back to the army. He returned to South Africa in 2005 to continue his work counselling war veterans.

Charles Bester was the youngest objector to be imprisoned for his beliefs. In 1988, aged 18, he was sentenced to six years prison and served 20 months in jail.

Andre Zaaiman confronted his Afrikaans community in the search for truth and became a conscientious objector and ANC member in 1986. His decision led him to question his Afrikaner identity and brought the political rifts within his family to a head.


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