South Africa: Arms to Russian Ship? Ramaphosa Won't Release Report on Alleged Transfer

(file photo).
5 June 2023

Cape Town — The Democratic Alliance will oppose President Cyril Ramaphosa's plan to classify the findings of a probe that determined whether arms and ammunition supplied from South Africa were loaded onto a Russian cargo vessel in 2022. This comes after Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya  confirmed the probe was not an official commission of inquiry, and its findings and the report itself will not be released to the public, according to Times Live and Defence Web. "The investigation covers issues of national security and classified information, which is protected from disclosure," Magwenya said.

Previously, U.S. ambassador Reuben Brigety alleged that Russia's the Lady R was loaded with weapons and ammunition when it docked in Simon's Town in December last year, prompting the creation of an official probe which Ramaphosa authorised. However, the Presidency slammed Brigety's allegations, saying he did not follow diplomatic procedure when he made them, and went on to say that there was no knowledge of any weapons being loaded onto the Lady R, an action that would have been illegal.

According to Eyewitness NewsBrigety apologised for making his claims public following a meeting with Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor. However, he stopped short of expressing regret for making the allegations themselves. Presidency spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: "Ambassador Reuben Brigety admitted that he crossed the line and apologised unreservedly to the government and people of South Africa. South Africa is known globally for having one of the most stringent processes when selling arms to other countries. The process is managed by the National Convention Arms Control Committee which was created through an Act of Parliament."

The alleged weapons smuggling came two months before South Africa, Russia and China launched joint naval exercises. Western allies slammed the military action in light of Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine which has had numerous bureaucratic effects on South Africa's relationship with Vladimir Putin and his nation.

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