‘No evidence weapons were loaded onto the ship’: Ramaphosa on Lady R probe
The president shared limited details of the findings of a panel report that investigated allegations by US ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety, who claimed weapons and ammunition were loaded onto the Russian cargo ship in December.
JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa said there's no truth to the damaging allegations that South Africa illegally exported arms to Russia when the vessel Lady R docked in Simon's Town.
In May, United States (US) ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety claimed that weapons and ammunition were laden onto a Russian cargo ship that docked near a naval base in Cape Town in December 2022. This triggered a diplomatic row and sent the rand tumbling.
It also placed a stark focus on Pretoria's flimsy stance on the ongoing war in Ukraine.
In an address to the nation on Sunday, Ramaphosa shared limited details of the findings of a panel report that investigated the contentious allegations.
“From this investigation, the panel found no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export onto the ship, Lady R.”
The president said the panel, led by retired judge Phineas Mojapelo, visited the naval base in Western Cape, obtained evidence from nearly 50 people, and more than 100 documents were submitted for examination.
Ramphosa said the claims levelled against South Africa tarnished its image as a country.
“A number of entities and persons that have publicly claimed to have information on this matter were invited to make submissions to the panel. Many of those invited either failed to do so or said they had no independent knowledge of the relevant facts.”
The president also clarified that the ship docked to deliver equipment for the South African National Defence Force.
“The panel established that the ship docked at Simon's Town to deliver equipment that had been ordered for the South African National Defence Force in 2018 by [the Armaments Corporation of South Africa], our country’s arms procurement company.”