A judicial probe uncovered no evidence to back up allegations that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa appointed Judge Phineas Mojapelo to lead a panel to investigate claims made by the US ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, that the weapons were loaded onto a Russian cargo ship, the Lady R, that docked in the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town in December. The claim sparked fears of a diplomatic fallout between South Africa and its second- largest trading partner that could potentially cost it its preferential access to American markets, and the rand tumbled to a record low against the dollar.
“The allegations leveled against our country had a most damaging effect on our currency, economy and our standing in the world and tarnished our image,” the president said in a televised address to the nation on Sunday. “The panel found no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export on the ship, the Lady R.”
South Africa’s government says it has adopted a non-aligned position toward Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and refused to back United Nations resolutions sanctioning Moscow. Brigety has stood accused within South Africa of failing to follow proper diplomatic protocol and the government has faced calls to expel him.
Ramaphosa said he wouldn’t release the full report because some of the information it contained is classified, but that he will release an executive summary on Monday.