South Africa to investigate US accusation of sending arms to Russia


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a panel to investigate US allegations that a Russian ship had collected weapons from a naval base near Cape Town last year, the presidency said in a statement on Sunday.

The US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, said on May 11 that he was confident that a Russian ship, which docked at a naval base in Simonstown, in the Western Cape, in December last year, had South African weapons on board. , a charge South Africa has since denied.

The allegations have sparked a diplomatic spat between the US, South Africa and Russia and have called into question South Africa’s non-aligned position on the Ukraine conflict.

South Africa says it is impartial and has abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the war.

«The President decided to launch the investigation due to the seriousness of the allegations, the scope of the public interest and the impact of this matter on South Africa’s international relations,» the statement said.

The three-member panel will be chaired by Phineas Mojapelo, former Deputy Chairman of the Gauteng Provincial Judge. The other two members are lawyer Leah Gcabashe, a former director of evidence in a state corruption investigation that ended last year, and Enver Surty, a former deputy minister for basic education. She will have six weeks to do her research.

The terms of reference for the panel include establishing who was aware of the cargo ship’s arrival, the contents that were loaded and unloaded, and «whether constitutional, legal or other obligations in connection with the cargo ship’s arrival were met.» burden».

The president is expected to receive a final report within two weeks of the conclusion of the investigation.

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