Copper and cable thieves target Silvermine for the second time this year


Silvermine, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) high-tech communications facility, has again been targeted by thieves who took antennas and copper cable, undoing temporary repairs following a similar incident in January.

The theft was brought to light by Kobus Marais, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of defence and military veterans. defenceWeb had, at the time of publication, not had any response to questions posed to both the Navy Office in Pretoria and SA Navy fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town.

Marais was told earlier this week “all temporary repairs have been cut and stolen. Video coverage of the upper farm is also gone. The Navy has only one antenna – A5 – giving about 25% coverage”.

He said the latest theft made it clear none of the measures supposedly implemented to improve security after the robbery in January has had any effect.
“In fact, it could be termed ‘business as usual’ for those wanting to steal from an important military facility which Silvermine definitely is.”

Following the January theft, also of copper cabling and antenna components, the maritime arm of the SANDF reverted to using communication links in Durban and aboard a submarine to maintain contact with assets at sea.

The January theft was predated by another four years previously. The military then said it was not a major issue and communications with platforms at sea and aircraft on maritime patrol remained good.

The January theft saw the military communications network revamped to work through the Naval Communications Centre in Durban with satellite communications “totally unaffected,” the Navy said at the time.

Following the January incident it was reported that military police were concerned about the theft of “giant antennas” taken from adjacent to the entrance to the underground communications complex and then past SA Navy guards at the entrance. The theft was said to be well-planned and executed over a period of time with trenches dug to remove copper cables.