Here’s what it takes to join South Africa’s army in 2019

The Western Cape government recently published an outline of the requirements for joining the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

According to the outline, one of the most common ways to currently enter the SANDF is through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS).

The MSDS is a Department of Defence programme that serves as the entry-level platform for young South Africans who want to follow a career in the SANDF.

Under the MSDS, new recruits undergo an initial period of two years of voluntary service.

In the first year, you will receive military training and further functional training. In the second year, you will be deployed as per the SANDF’s operational requirements.

After the two years, you will either continue as part of the Reserve Force or receive a contract offer to join the Regular Force.

Selected members with the required academic qualifications may also be sent to universities or the military academy.

MSDS members will receive wages for the duration of their two-year full-time training and utilisation.

Speaking to BusinessTech an SANDF spokesperson said that they were unable to provide exact salary information regarding the MSDS programme due to the high number of scams targeting prospective trainees.

In October 2018 the SANDF warned that scams were targeting vulnerable youth through various social media platforms.

“The public is warned to ignore and report these fraudulent activities instigated by faceless charlatans aimed at swindling unsuspecting and vulnerable youth of their money,” it said.

Requirements for the MSDS programme

To qualify for the MSDS programme, you should:

  • Be a South African citizen;
  • Be aged between 18 and 22 years (graduates up to the age of 26 years);
  • Be currently busy with the National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) or have completed it;
  • Not be area-bound;
  • Have no record of a criminal offence;
  • Preferably be single;
  • Comply with medical fitness requirements for appointment in the South African National Defence Force;
  • Be prepared to do basic military training, functional training and to serve in uniform.

There are a number of additional specialised requirements for citizens looking to enter the South African Air Force (SAAF)Navy (SAN) and the Military Health Service (SAMHS).

As noted above, there is also a clear distinction in the type of training you will receive over your two years of voluntary service:

In the first year of MSDS you can expect:

  • Basic military training and functional training;
  • Corps-specific training;
  • Participation in practical military exercises;
  • Combat-ready training exercises;
  • Selection of junior leaders.

In the second year of MSDS you can expect:

  • To undergo young officers formative training;
  • Junior leaders (officers) will receive leader group corps training;
  • A selection process for officers to study at the Military Academy;
  • A focus on the utilisation and deployment of MSDS troops.

Speaking to BusinessTech an SANDF spokesperson said that they were unable to provide exact salary information regarding the MSDS programme due to the high number of scams targeting prospective trainees.


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Here’s what it takes to join South Africa’s army in 2019