South Africa refutes allegations of arms shipment to Russia

South Africa has been exonerated of allegations claiming that the country supplied weapons to Russia, according to the findings of an independent inquiry. The panel dismissed assertions made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, that a Russian ship had been loaded with ammunition and arms in Cape Town in December. The allegations had cast doubt on South Africa’s professed neutrality in the Ukraine conflict, damaging the nation’s currency and reputation. President Cyril Ramaphosa stated in a televised address to the country that the panel had found no evidence to support the claim of weapons transport from South Africa to Russia, as no permit for arms export was issued, and no arms were exported. The inquiry revealed that the Russian cargo ship had actually transported a consignment of weapons from Russia to South Africa, as per the 2018 order. The accusations made by Ambassador Brigety referenced the docking of the ship Lady R in the Simon’s Town naval base from 6 to 8 December 2022. However, the South African foreign ministry announced that Mr. Brigety had publicly apologized for his statements after the claims were made. In response to the allegations, President Ramaphosa initiated an independent judge-led inquiry to investigate the matter. The president expressed his satisfaction with the inquiry, stating that none of the individuals who made these allegations could provide any evidence supporting the claims. The report, which will be released as an executive summary for security reasons, highlights that the inquiry visited the naval base, heard testimonies from nearly 50 people, and examined more than 100 documents. South Africa’s relationship with Russia has been scrutinized since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, with the US and other Western nations criticizing South Africa’s refusal to condemn Russia publicly, as well as its participation in joint naval exercises with Russia. The allegations, although proven false, have adversely affected South Africa’s reputation and currency, necessitating a swift response to rectify the damage and restore confidence in the nation’s credibility.