A group of 22 young whites announced today that they will not serve in the country's army because of their opposition to apartheid, a decision that could cost some of them up to six years in jail.
The men stood before the pulpit in a Cape Town Methodist Church directly opposite the city's main police station to identify themselves to the media and to state their opposition to apartheid, which they say the army defends.
"We believe our country is best served if we refuse to fight in the South African Defence Force," Glenn Goosen said in a statement on behalf of the group.
"We believe this country is in civil war. . . . The root cause of the war is apartheid. It is indefensible."
The men, ranging in age from 20 to 35, include Afrikaners from the Dutch-descended community that traditionally backs the ruling white National Party. About half the group has already served part of the four years' military service for which all white men are liable.
In another development today, the National Union of Mineworkers said an estimated 200,000 black coal and gold miners would walk off the job Sunday night in the largest strike ever to affect the industry.
Union General-Secretary Cyril Ramaphosa said the strike would affect 28 gold mines around the country and 18 collieries.
He said he did not know how the strike would affect the industry financially. Mine owners have been reported stockpiling for some weeks in anticipation of the strike over higher wages.
Gold accounts for half of South Africa's foreign currency earnings.
Ramaphosa said the union was demanding 30% across-the-board wage increases for black miners, who, the union says, earn an average $112 a month.