Erika Gibson | 24.06.2003 05:08
23/06/2003 20:41 - (SA)
Pretoria - Up to 800 young South Africans would like to join the British defence force this year despite the fact that the government may act against them.
This number excludes the more than 350 South Africans currently serving in the British forces.
A private recruitment agency, with no ties to the British government, is helping South Africans to complete their applications.
Candidates must be in possession of a matric certificate and must meet strict medical requirements, such as not being HIV positive and not having tuberculosis.
Earlier this year, the government launched an investigation into the legality of this practise after two South Africans died in the Iraqi war.
Foreign Affairs said it was still not clear whether government should act against these young people.
An Act was promulgated to discourage mercenaries and not necessarily to curb military co-operation between "friendly" countries.
Nick Sheppard, spokesperson for the British High Commission in Pretoria, said any citizen of a Commonwealth country could apply to serve in the British defence force.
"If South Africa starts seeing this as contravening the law, we will obviously have to reconsider out position."