Lady R weapons loading story a damaging lie – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed on Sunday, as Sunday World reported in July, that the Russian vessel Lady R docked at Simonstown to deliver high-calibre weapons South Africa procured for security cluster forces.

Contrary to widespread allegations that South Africa provided weapons to Russia during the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Ramaphosa said in a national address that a three-member independent panel that investigated the incident found no supporting evidence.

“The panel found no evidence of weapons being loaded for export and no evidence to support the claim that the ship transported weapons from South Africa destined for Russia,” he said.

Instead, he said, the ship had delivered equipment ordered for the South African National Defence Force in 2018 by Armscor, the country’s arms procurement company.

He said that revealing the details of the equipment offloaded could jeopardise the work and safety of South Africa’s forces in various deployments on the continent. 

“I have decided not to release the report,” he continued, adding that revealing the details of the equipment offloaded would compromise key military operations and put soldiers’ lives at risk.

“Under these circumstances, when lives would be at risk due to the revelation of the type of equipment that is utilised by our armed forces, the need for confidentiality is both necessary and justified,” said Ramaphosa.

In July, Sunday World reported that the government procured weapons for law enforcement agencies to combat rampant organised crime in the country.

The publication also revealed that the transaction was executed before the Covid-19 outbreak after realising that to meet the gangs’ firepower pound for pound, the state needed to purchase heavy weaponry, which the country’s law enforcement agencies did not have.

To avoid the risk of foreign spies flooding the market with the same artillery and arming crime syndicates to sabotage the government’s crime-fighting efforts, Sunday World has been informed that the details of the weapons are to be kept top secret.

Ramaphosa said on Sunday that the baseless allegations of a secret weapons supply deal between South Africa and Russia – championed by the disgraced US ambassador Reuben Brigety, the DA, and its mainstream media allies – had damaged the country’s currency, economy, and global standing. 

He said a number of entities and individuals that had publicly claimed to have information on this matter were invited to submit it to the panel.

“Many of those invited either failed to do so or said they had no independent knowledge of the relevant facts,” he said.

“When all matters are considered, none of the allegations made about the supply of weapons to Russia have been proven to be true, and none of the persons who made these allegations could provide any evidence to support the claims that had been levelled against our country.”

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