A high-level delegation with the Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister at the helm was recently at Cape Town’s Silvermine military base – one of the national defence force’s most important – for a first hand overview of activities.
Accompanying Thabang Makwetla were his chief of staff, personal advisor and personal assistant as well as Brigadier General V.Z. Ngcobo (Chief of Staff, Joint Operations headquarters), Brigadier General J.O. Buskes (Defence Intelligence) and Rear Admiral (JG) Lisa Hendricks (Flag Officer Fleet Staff).
Silvermine at the foot of the Steenberg and in the Silvermine Nature Reserve was officially opened on March 1973 as the SA Navy (SAN) Maritime Operational and Communications headquarters. From here the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) performed operational command and control of maritime forces.
The base is now home to Join Tactical Headquarters Western Cape, the SAN Hydrographic Office (SANHO), Defence Intelligence Directorate Electronic Collection Sub–section Shipping Information, Display and Analysis Section, Maritime Domain Awareness Centre, Western Cape Naval Communication Centre, 21 Signal Regiment and 526 Squadron. This makes it the major military communication and intelligence hub in Western Cape.
According to a SANDF LinkedIn post Makwetla, responding to presentations said Silvermine “is a National Strategic Key Point based on the volume of activities currently taking place at the base”. The deputy minister told those present the provincial joint tactical headquarters “was not functioning as it should” adding he wanted “more continuous deployment for Operation Corona in the maritime environment” as well as assistance provided to other (presumably national and provincial) departments .