The Mine – Naval Base and Copper Thieves

The Mine access

Climber on Swan Lake (25) at The Mine

The lower entrance to The Mine could soon be a thing of the past due to thieves who have stolen 5000 meters of copper wire.

The Naval Base below The Mine is not quite as secure as you might have thought!  Thieves have stolen more than 5000 meters of copper wire from in and around the installation!

While you might not think this has anything to do with climbing… we could lose access from the bottom entrance (forcing climbers to park at the top entrance).  Loss of this access point will mean risking having your car broken into at the top parking lot (if you stay past closing hours), less convenient access and no more quick afternoon sessions after work 🙁


The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, must step in and sort out the shambles at the South African Navy’s Naval Command Centre (NCC) at Silvermine in Cape Town.

More than 5 000 metres of copper wire have been stolen from the NCC at Silvermine, compromising radio communication and therefore command and control of the South African Navy (SAN).
The primary function of the NCC – which is a National Key Point – is to support strategic and tactical radio communication for the SAN.
However, copper thieves have raided the NCC no less than five times in a twelve-month period.
The facts are as follows:
  • the “lower antennae farm” has been breached by copper thieves and stripped of  copper “earth straps” and “ground planes”;
  • the “upper antennae farm” has also been breached by copper thieves and stripped of copper cables;
  • holes have been cut in the boundary fences, cordoning off the “lower antennae farm” and the “upper antennae farm”, or the boundary fences have simply collapsed; and
  • copper pipes supplying water to the air conditioning system have been stolen.
In total, more than 5 000 metres (5 kilometres) of copper wire has been stolen from the NCC at Silvermine in Cape Town.
The NCC at Silvermine is, as a result, unable to provide radio communication support to the SAN.
The SAN is effectively “deaf” in one ear as a result of this copper theft.
The copper theft incidents took place over a period of twelve months. There is a reasonable suspicion that the copper theft at Silvermine is an “inside job” and yet there has evidently been no action from the Military Police.
Moreover, the fact that the boundary fences at Silvermine have collapsed is well known and they have been awaiting repair by the Department of Public Works since 2011.
The Minister must step in and sort out the complete shambles at the NCC at Silvermine by ensuring that:
  • proper perimeter security is put in place, including a new boundary fence;
  • all the relevant radio communications systems are repaired and restored to full working order; and
  • a proper criminal investigation takes place – if necessary by the South African Police Service – to bring the copper thieves to book.
The fact that copper thieves breached the NCC at Silvermine is a national – and international – embarrassment that may compromise maritime safety and national security.
Article source:
The Mine, looking out

View from The Mine, Cape Town, Photo by Che Overmeyer

10 Responses to The Mine – Naval Base and Copper Thieves

  1. Sven Mar 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    I thought the Navy would do patrols to protect their equipment.

    Where the new recruits?

  2. Sven Mar 19, 2013 at 12:49 pm #


    I forgot the Army can’t even protect our boarders anymore

  3. Chris F Mar 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    I was going to say the same – is standing guard all night no longer part of basic training – or is a backhander too much to resist?

  4. PaulP Mar 19, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    Erm, they employ a security company to man the gate to the barracks. True story.

  5. Chris F Mar 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Darem lekker lewe vir neuwe troepe.

  6. Justin Lawson Mar 19, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    From another article on the theft
    “one also wonders how copper piping can be taken from inside the complex without anyone noticing.”


  7. Chris F Mar 19, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    If enough palms are greased it’s amazing how hard you can look in the wrong direction.

  8. Paul Mar 20, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    for Pete’s sake !
    As Chris and Sven say…doing national service 30 years ago meant we pulled 4 hour shifts of gaurd duty a few times a week.
    What a joke the SANDF is ! Hiring security companies ? So ridiculous.

  9. Andre Mar 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    To PaulP – your ‘true’ story is quite incorrect and anyone living in this are can confirm – all gates are manned by naval protection force. The claim that it was stolen within the complex is also fascinating as the antennas are located high in the mountains. It is fine to make comments when an armchair expert but try establishing the facts as the Sunday Times did.

  10. Justin Lawson Mar 21, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Comment from the SANDF regarding the thefts –> Silvermine copper theft not affecting naval communications

    Private security or not, I am of the opinion they need to get their house (base) in order!
    Doing a quick search on ‘Silvermine Naval Base‘ brings up the following??

    Image source:

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