Practice Relating to Rule 52. Pillage
South Africa’s LOAC Manual (1996) provides that pillage and stealing of civilian property are forbidden.
It also states that pillage is a grave breach of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and a war crime.
South Africa’s Revised Civic Education Manual (2004) states: “Pillage [and] stealing … civilian property are … forbidden.”
The manual also provides that pillage is a grave breach of the law of armed conflict and a war crime.
South Africa’s LOAC Teaching Manual (2008) states:
Prohibited Acts against Persons not taking an Active Part in Armed Conflicts
- Specific Rules
- Pillage is prohibited.
The manual also states:
2.4 Specifically Protected Persons and Objects:
The protection of civilians can be briefly summarised as follows:
- Civilian property must also be respected. It is NOT:
- War booty;
- To be taken for own gain; or
- To be willfully destroyed or treated with wanton disregard for its protection.
 Geneva Convention IV articles 28 to 34 grant further protection to civilians. These articles determine the following:
- A protected person may not be punished for an offence that that person has not committed. Collective penalties, intimidation or terrorism, pillage and reprisals are prohibited.
Protection of protected persons entails the following:
- Collective penalties, intimidation or terrorism, pillage and reprisals are prohibited against protected persons.
[emphasis in original]
South Africa’s ICC Act (2002) reproduces the war crimes listed in the 1998 ICC Statute, including “pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault” in both international and non-international armed conflicts.