The defense minister is vowing to punish 143 men who refused for moral, religious and political reasons to perform the military service required of all white males in South Africa.

"No citizen can decide of his or her own free will which laws to respect," Defense Minister Magnus Malan said Wednesday. "No self-respecting state can tolerate such subversive action."He said the men were acting against the constitution and declared that action would be taken against them, but he did not elaborate. Most could face up to six years in prison if convicted of avoiding military service.