South African President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the official inauguration ceremony at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, 25 May 2019. EFE-EPA/FILE/STR

South Africa’s president says inquiry finds no evidence of weapons supply to Russia

Johannesburg, Sep 4 (EFE).- An independent probe has found no evidence that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia for the war in Ukraine, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

The United States ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, had alleged that a Russian ship was loaded with arms and ammunition at a naval base near Cape Town in December last year, indicating that the weapons were being shipped to Russia.

In a televised address to the nation late Sunday, Ramaphosa said the allegations had damaged South Africa’s commitment to neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“The (probe) panel found no evidence to support the claim that the ship transported weapons from South Africa to Russia,” said the president.

“No permit was issued for the export of arms, and no arms were exported.”

He said the allegations had a “damaging effect on our currency, our economy, and our standing in the world.”

“In fact, it tarnished our image.”

Brigety told reporters in Pretoria on May 11 that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia through the Russian ship Lady R, which docked at the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town last year.

“The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved, and we would like (South Africa to start) practicing its non-alignment policy,” Brigety said, later alleging that his words were misinterpreted.

Ramaphosa formed an independent inquiry commission headed by retired judge Phineas Mojapelo after the allegations.

The panel visited the Simon’s Town naval base, where it got sworn testimony from nearly 50 people and reviewed about 100 documents, the president said.

“The panel established that the ship (Lady R) docked at Simon’s Town to deliver equipment that had been ordered for the South African National Defense Force in 2018 by Armscor, the country’s arms procurement company,” Ramaphosa said.

The president said only a summary of the panel’s report would be published because revealing details could jeopardize the safety of South African forces on various deployments on the continent.”

Ramaphosa has always insisted that his country maintains a “non-alignment” position regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine and has called for dialog to resolve the conflict. EFE