The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is, according to its Director: Corporate Communication, “extremely proud” of its military heritage and the care and support it provides to its military museums.
In response to a defenceWeb enquiry, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, said the SAAF has two museums, located at AFB Zwartkop (Pretoria) and AFB Ysterplaat (Cape Town).
“Both museums have been allocated a budget of R740 000 which is centralised and managed through SAAF Air Command,” he said.
One of these museums – the flagship site at AFB Zwartkop, South Africa’s oldest air force base and also the Imperial Gift from the United Kingdom – along with the Port Elizabeth satellite (not mentioned at all in the communication from SANDF Corporate Communication) was summarily declared off limits to visitors at the start of the month. The closure announcement was communicated via social media and later expanded on by SAAF media liaison which said it was due to a review of Reserve Force man-day allocations and an “overall safety and security appreciation at the various SAAF Museums”.
The reviews have been completed and SAAF Media Liaison Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Maseko today said “all three SAAF Museums are again open to the public”.
“Sufficient Reserve Force mandays have now been allocated to enable the museums to operate at full strength. Security measures and levels have also been stepped up,” he said..
The SA Navy Museum at Naval base Simon’s town has, according to Mabanga, an operational budget of R60 600 for the 2014/15 financial year.
“Additionally there is the submarine museum, SAS Assegaai, managed privately by volunteers (retired submariners) and funds are administered by the Naval Heritage Trust,” he said.
Assegaai is the last survivor of the Daphne Class, the first submarine type operated by the maritime arm of service.
While the SA Military Heath Service (SAMHS) does not have a dedicated heritage site or museum as such, the SA Army has two museums.
The SA Armour Museum is sited at the School of Armour at Tempe, Bloemfontein and the other in generally the same location at 44 Parachute Battalion. SANDF Corporate Communication indicates the museums are funded through the School of Armour and 44 Para operational budgets but did not supply a monetary figure.
The air force museums rely heavily on Reserve Force staffing while the Navy’s historical side is cared for by full-time SAN personnel, including a museumologist.
No details of personnel for the two Army museums were provided.