The US Ambassador to Pretoria, Reuben Brigety, has accused South Africa of selling weapons and ammunition to Russia through the Russian merchant ship “Lady R”. In a press release, Brigety expressed his government’s concerns about the issue, saying that it would be a mistake to underestimate their concerns. The Russian ship docked at the Simon’s Town naval base near Cape Town in December 2020.
Brigety is now waiting for a response from the South African government on this issue, and he has also stated that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGAO) negotiations with South Africa have reached a dead end. He expressed his discomfort with the African National Congress (ANC) accusing the US of inciting the Russia-Ukraine war.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa commented on the issue, saying that the issue of arms shipments to the Russian ship is being examined and they will talk about it when the time comes. The leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), John Steenhuisen, accused the government of lying about South Africa not being a party to the Russia-Ukraine war. Herman Mashaba, leader of the opposition party Action SA, has requested the US Embassy to share information about the allegations, stating that if the claim is proven true, it will help the South African people hold the government accountable.
The accusation of arms dealing with Russia is a serious issue, and South Africa’s response will be closely watched by the international community.