The South African Presidency has vehemently rejected claims made by the United States Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben E Brigety, alleging that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Presidency expressed serious concern regarding Ambassador Brigety’s assertions, emphasizing that they undermine the cooperative and collaborative spirit that has characterized the relationship between the two nations.
It said that the recent diplomatic engagements between US government officials and a South African delegation, led by National Security Special Advisor to the President, Dr Sydney Mufumadi, were marked by fruitful discussions and a positive atmosphere, adding that the allegations raised by the US Ambassador not only disrupt the understanding achieved during these interactions but also pose a threat to the ongoing cooperation between South Africa and the United States, said the South African Presidency in Pretoria.
The allegations stem from the docking of a Russian vessel, Lady R, in South Africa. While doubts have been cast on the purpose of the vessel’s voyage, no concrete evidence has been presented thus far to substantiate the claims of weapons supply.
In response, the South African Government has taken a proactive approach by initiating an independent inquiry led by a retired judge, underscoring its commitment to transparency and accountability.
During the recent talks between the South African delegation and US officials, the Lady R matter was thoroughly discussed, and a mutual agreement was reached to allow the investigation to unfold without hindrance. Both parties also agreed to the sharing of any evidence possessed by the US intelligence services. However, the South African Presidency expressed disappointment in Ambassador Brigety’s public stance, which appears to undermine the progress and cooperation achieved in these discussions.
In its statement, the presidency of South Africa wrote, “The Presidency has noted with concern remarks attributed to the United States Ambassador to South Africa, Reuben E Brigety, alleging the supply by South Africa of weapons to Russia.
“The Ambassdor’s remarks undermine the spirit of cooperation and partnership that characterised the recent engagements between US government officials and a South African official delegation led by National Security Special Advisor to the President, Dr Sydney Mufumadi.
“It is public knowledge that a Russian vessel known as Lady R docked in South Africa. Allegations have since been made about the purpose of the voyage. While no evidence has been provided to date to support these allegations, the Government has undertaken to institute an independent enquiry to be led by a retired judge.
“In recent engagements between the South African delegation and US officials, the Lady R matter was discussed and there was an agreement that an investigation will be allowed to run its course, and that the US intelligence services will provide whatever evidence in their possession.
“It is therefore disappointing that the US Ambassador has adopted a counter-productive public posture that undermines the understanding reached on the matter and the very positive and constructive engagements between the two delegations.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa himself addressed the issue during a parliamentary session, affirming that the Lady R issue is currently under investigation. The President reiterated the government’s unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth and urged all parties involved to present concrete evidence in support of their allegations.