Toms was drafted into the national service in the South African Defence Force (SADF), as a non-combatant doctor in 1978. He opposed the goals of the SADF, but refused to leave South Africa. He spent much of his six months as a doctor in Namibia, which was then known as South West Africa and was controlled by South Africa.
Once he returned to Cape Town, Toms set up a medical clinic in the squatter settlement of Crossroads, which is located about 15 km outside of the city in the Cape Flats area. He was the only doctor who served the Crossroads' population of approximately 60,000 people. In September 1983, Toms witnessed a three week long confrontation between the Crossroads community and the South African police and security forces, who were trying to tear down "illegal" buildings in the settlement. After witnessing the violence and brutality of the raid, Toms vowed never to serve in the SADF again, even in a non-combatant capacity. He went public with his opinions on what he had witnessed and became a founding member of the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) in 1983. Toms' co-founders of the ECC included other prominent anti-conscription activists including Nan Cross.
Toms went on a three week long hunger strike in February 1985 to protest the government's decision to buldoze the Crossroads shanty town. The destruction of Crossroads resulted in violence and the deaths of several people as residents tried to resist the destruction. Toms commented during his hunger strike that, "As a Christian, I am obliged to say no, to say never again will I put on that SADF uniform."
The SADF officially took control of Toms' health clinic in 1986. The following year, in July 1987, Toms defied the SADF when he was called up for one month of compulsory service. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison in 1988 for defying the order and ultimately served nine months in Pollsmoor Prison.
Read more about this topic: Ivan Toms
Other articles related to "conscription":
... Although some farmers and factory workers opposed the legislation, it was in Quebec, where conscription was most vociferously denounced ... Leading the campaign against conscription was Quebec nationalist Henri Bourassa and Sir Wilfrid Laurier who argued that the war pitted Canadians against each other ...
... Arrière-ban Civil conscription Civilian Public Service Corvée Economic conscription Impressment and the Quota System Indentured servant Involuntary servitude ...
... With the introduction of conscription in January 1916, no further Pals battalions were raised ... Conscription for single men was introduced in January 1916 ... despite its then status as part of the United Kingdom (but see Conscription Crisis of 1918) ...
... Civil conscription is conscription used for forcing people to work in non-military projects ... Civil conscription is used by various governments around the world, among them Greece ... Temporary conscription for payment, typically of taxes, is known as corvée ...
... Conscription allowed the French Republic to form the La Grande Armée, what Napoleon Bonaparte called "the nation in arms", which successfully battled European professional armies ... Conscription, particularly when the conscripts are being sent to foreign wars that do not directly affect the security of the nation, has historically been highly politically contentious in ... Canada also had a political dispute over conscription during World War II ...
Famous quotes containing the word conscription:
“No Ravens wing can stretch the flight so far
As the torn bandrols of Napoleons war.
Choose then your climate, fix your best abode,
Hell make you deserts and hell bring you blood.
How could you fear a dearth? have not mankind,
Tho slain by millions, millions left behind?
Has not conscription still the power to weild
Her annual faulchion oer the human field?
A faithful harvester!”
—Joel Barlow (17541812)
“We have our difficulties, true; but we are a wiser and a tougher nation than we were in 1932. Never have there been six years of such far flung internal preparedness in all of history. And this has been done without any dictators power to command, without conscription of labor or confiscation of capital, without concentration camps and without a scratch on freedom of speech, freedom of the press or the rest of the Bill of Rights.”
—Franklin D. Roosevelt (18821945)