Practice Relating to Rule 151. Individual Responsibility
South Africa’s LOAC Manual (1996) states: “The conventions and protocols place specific obligations on individual members of the SANDF [South African National Defence Force]; breaches thereof may lead to personal liability.”
The manual further states: “Signatory States are required to treat as criminals under domestic law anyone who commits or orders a grave breach.”
South Africa’s Revised Civic Education Manual (2004) states:
Every member of the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] is, by virtue of South Africa’s ratification of the Geneva Conventions, subject to the LOAC. Any grave breach of the LOAC is regarded as a war crime and shall be repressed by penal sanction. … Offenders could face disciplinary action for simple breaches. If breaches go unpunished, it would signify the degradation of human values and the regression of the entire concept of humanity.
South Africa’s ICC Act (2002) provides:
Despite anything to the contrary in any other law of the Republic, any person who commits [genocide, a crime against humanity or a war crime] is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment.
In its judgment in the Basson II case in 2005, the Constitutional Court of South Africa stated:
 In deciding whether or not to grant condonation the [Supreme Court of Appeal] failed to … give consideration to the need to take account of South Africa’s international obligations in respect of upholding principles of international humanitarian law.
 War by its very nature is brutal. It involves the intentional and frequently cruel killing of human beings, using all the force that a state can muster. Yet the law declares firmly that all is not fair in love and war. Since ancient times throughout the globe humanity has imposed limits on what can be done in the course of armed conflict. Legal constraints on the manner in which war could be conducted were found in a diverse range of cultural traditions from antiquity onwards and established the basis for the adoption of universally accepted norms of conduct in times of war. Thus, recognition of the principle of individual responsibility for atrocities in war as violations of the law of nations occurred during an early and relatively immature stage of the development of international law generally. Prior to the establishment of the Nuremburg and Tokyo Tribunals after World War 2, the focus for trying such anciently condemned atrocities lay with national courts. The recent establishment of the International Criminal Court represents the culmination of a centuries-old process of developing international humanitarian law. It in no way deprives national courts of responsibility for trying cases involving breaches of such law which are properly brought before them in terms of national law.
In 1996, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi, South Africa stated:
The international community can no longer allow acts of unbridled violence to continue with impunity. Those who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law should be made to realize that they are individually responsible for such violations and will be held accountable.