Mashaba US Ambassador Russia weapons

Russian cargo ship Lady R docked at Simon’s Town . Image: Facebook/ Lorraine Goddard Bradbury.

Retired judge to lead inquiry into whether SA supplied Russia with arms

Ramaphosa said SA and the US recently discussed the Lady R issue and agreed that an investigation should be allowed to run its course. The US has yet to provide any evidence to support the allegations.

Mashaba US Ambassador Russia weapons

Russian cargo ship Lady R docked at Simon’s Town . Image: Facebook/ Lorraine Goddard Bradbury.

An Independent inquiry, led by a retired judge, will be established to investigate the United States’ (US) allegations that South Africa supplied weapons and ammunition to Russia.

READ: Did South Africa provide Russia with weapons? The US thinks so

US ambassador willing to bet his life on allegations

On Thursday, 11 May, US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben E. Brigety, said he would bet his life on the accuracy of his country’s intelligence.

The US alleges the arms were supplied to Russia when a sanctioned ship, Lady R, docked at the Simon’s Town naval base between 6 and 8 December.

READ: Lady R: Sanctioned Russian ship seen moving cargo in Simon’s Town before leaving as quietly as it came

“Among the things we noted was the docking of the cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base between 6th to 8th December 2022, which we are confident uploaded weapons and ammunition onto that vessel in Simon’s Town as it made its way back to Russia,” said Brigety.

Brigety also referred to the ANC as hostile to his country, per TimesLive. He quoted from a resolution from the governing party’s national conference, which referred to the conflict in Ukraine as a consequence of the US expansion of NATO.

Issue raised during a SA trip to Washington

In April, South Africa sent a high-level delegation to Washington, which Brigety accompanied. The trip was to ensure SA did not get excluded from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), according to News24, which accounted for R400 billion of trade between the countries last year.

During this trip to Washington, the US raised several concerns, including Lady R’s docking, and SA’s participation in military exercises with Russia and China.

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“We expressed as well our serious concerns for the timing of the joint naval exercises that SA participated in with Russia and China in SA waters that coincided with the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” said Brigety.

Ramaphosa responds

When Ramaphosa responded to Brigety’s remarks, in a statement, he said the ambassador undermined the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterised the recent engagements between the countries.

The President also indicated that the government was aware of the US allegations before Brigety went public. Ramaphosa said the Lady R matter was discussed, and it was agreed that an investigation would be allowed to run its course.

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The US was meant to provide the evidence in their possession for the investigation. Ramaphosa said no evidence had been provided to support the allegations to date. He added that an independent inquiry by a retired judge would be set up for the investigation.

“It is therefore disappointing that the US Ambassador has adopted a counter-productive public posture that undermines the understanding reached on the matter and the very positive and constructive engagements between the two delegations,” said Ramaphosa.

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