An independent probe has concluded that there is no evidence that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia for the war in Ukraine, despite accusations from the United States, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
“In recent months, statements from various [sides] have used these accusations to question South Africa’s commitment to its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” Ramaphosa said in an address to the nation..
In a press conference in Pretoria on May 11, the US ambassador, Reuben Brigety, claimed that South Africa provided weapons to Russia through the Russian ship Lady R, which docked at the Simon’s Town naval base, in Cape Town (southwest), in December last year.
“We (the U.S.) are confident that weapons were loaded into that vessel, and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion,” Brigety said. He called South Africa’s “arming” of Russia “fundamentally unacceptable.”
“Amongst the things that we noted, were the docking of the Russian Cargo ship Lady R in Simons Town, between December 6th and December 8th, 22, which we are confident uploaded weapons, ammunitions onto that vessel in Simons Town as it made its way back to Russia.”
Ramaphosa established an independent inquiry in the aftermath of the accusations and appointed retired judge Phineas Mojapelo as chair of that panel.
“From its investigation, the panel found no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export onto the ship Lady R. The panel found that there was no evidence to support the claim that the ship transported weapons from South Africa destined for Russia,” the head of state emphasized in his speech.
During the course of its work, the panel visited the Simon’s Town naval base and obtained sworn testimony from nearly fifty people at all relevant levels of Government, while more than one hundred documents were submitted for review.
HARROWING EFFECT OF ACCUSATIONS
“The accusations levelled against our country had a detrimental effect on our currency, our economy and our position in the world,” the president asserted.
One of the consequences of Brigety’s comments was a drop in the value of the country’s Rand.
“The panel established that the ship docked at Simons Town to deliver equipment that had been ordered for the South African National Defense Force in 2018 by Armscor,” Ramaphosa added.
The panel’s full report will not be released to the public: “Given the fact that the evidence given to the panel was classified and the fact that revealing the details of the equipment offloaded could jeopardize the work and safety of South Africa’s forces in various deployment on the continent, I have decided not to release the panel’s full report.”