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South Africa President Expecting Report on Russian ‘Lady R’ Ship

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to receive a much-anticipated report on whether arms were loaded onto the sanctioned Russian cargo vessel, the Lady R, in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa appointed a three-member panel to investigate whether weapons were loaded onto the ship after a briefing in May from U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety. He said that the Lady R was loaded with South African weapons while docked at the Simon’s Town Naval Base last year.

A diplomatic spat ensued, with Ramaphosa’s government vehemently denying any wrongdoing. Ramaphosa will decide what action to take on the report.

Dzvinka Kachur, honorary president of the Ukrainian Association of South Africa, said that the full report should be made public.

“We think it’s absolutely critical that this report is transparent to everybody as it brings legitimacy to the African leaders’ peace mission,” Kachur said. “So, it’s not going to put shade only on the South African government but on the whole initiative of many African leaders who are trying to negotiate the current Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Kachur said it is important to remember that the war has an impact on more than Ukraine.

As of August 2, Kachur said, “Russia has bombed over 20,000 tons of grain, which resulted in the immediate response by the global market: increased prices for grain. So, we can see that Russia continues killing daily and terrorizing daily not only Ukrainian farmers, Ukrainian children, but also threatening the whole African continent with famine.”

The defense spokesperson for the main opposition Democratic Alliance, parliamentarian Kobus Marais, said he is concerned that only selective parts of the report might be made available — which may serve the African National Congress-led government’s narrative — and not provide a complete picture.

“That’s why after I received an invitation to contribute to the panel at a very, very late stage, I eventually decided not to participate,” Marais said.

He said he received regular updates on the Lady R from retired naval officers living in Simon’s Town. He recalled the communication before it departed.

“WhatsApp messages from my sources to say that 3 o’clock that morning, in other words that Friday morning, there was still heavy activity going on of cranes, lifting cargo and into the hull of the Lady R. So clearly something was loaded,” Marais said.

Political analyst Lesiba Teffo, a professor at the University of South Africa, believes the investigating panel, comprised of retired Judge Phineas Mojapelo, legal advocate Leah Gcabashe and former Justice Minister Enver Surty, can be trusted.

“Undoubtedly, I know them at a personal level, some of them, especially the chairperson,” Teffo said. “He’s a man of immense integrity, a jurist, a legal scholar.”

Regarding giving the public access to the report, Teffo said it would be understandable if Ramaphosa has been advised not to for national security reasons.

“There is a level at which state secrets cannot be accessed by anybody and everybody,” Teffo said. “That is a universal practice.”

The panel had six weeks to investigate the allegations before compiling the report.

Source : VOA News