South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said an independent investigation is planned to look into allegations that South Africa is providing arms to Russia, a charge made public by Reuben Brigety, the United States Ambassador to South Africa.
An unnamed retired judge will lead the inquiry, with Ramaphosa making clear that it will begin despite the lack of evidence to support U.S. claims about the weapons. Brigety says South Africa loaded the weapons onto the Lady R, a ship docked at the Simon’s Town naval base outside Cape Town, in early December.
“We are confident that weapons were loaded onto that vessel and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion,” Brigety said on Thursday, speaking at a media roundtable. The issue came up previously during recent diplomatic discussions in Washington D.C., with some concern over how the allegations might affect Pretoria’s preferred U.S. trade status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Ramaphosa said it was “public knowledge that a Russian vessel known as Lady R” docked in South Africa but declined to offer more information about why. He called Brigety’s remarks disappointing and counterproductive.
“The Ambassador’s remarks undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterized the recent engagements between U.S. government officials and a South African official delegation led by National Security Special Advisor to the President, Dr. Sydney Mufumadi,” said Ramaphosa in his statement.
The Lady R matter was discussed and “there was an agreement that an investigation will be allowed to run its course, and that the U.S. intelligence services will provide whatever evidence in their possession.” the president added.
Image: Presidency South Africa