Modise adamant Lady R took on no cargo in Simon’s Town

2049

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise stands by her earlier statements that “nothing was loaded onto the Lady R” while the sanctioned Russian cargo vessel was alongside in Simon’s Town naval harbour in December.

This is as per a written reply to Kobus Marais, opposition shadow minister for her portfolio and initiator of a PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act) request for, among others, the Lady R’s cargo manifest.

Her response reads: “As stated in many previous public statements I reiterate that nothing was loaded onto Lady R, but rather, Lady R was delivering equipment that was ordered by SANDF pre–COVID in 2018/19. When the pandemic struck it affected every aspect of our lives and things came to a standstill. Thus, the delay delivery of the equipment [sic]. We want to reiterate that the order for such a delivery stands and that there was no export of anything from our entities through Lady R”.

She continues, informing Marais: “The President of the country and Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), Cyril Ramaphosa, appointed an independent panel under the chairmanship of Judge Mojapelo to conduct an inquiry into the Russian ship, Lady R”.

“Any disclosure could reasonably prejudice the investigation or may result in a contravention or possible contravention of the law, on conclusion of the inquiry which is about to commence or is in progress,” Modise writes, adding this makes it “prudent the panel be granted space and time to finalise its investigation and bring this matter to its ultimate conclusion within its mandate”.

The Ministerial response appears to have elicited at least some mainstream media interest. Presidency spokesman Vincent Magwenya is reported by EWN (Eye Witness News) as saying the judicial enquiry “remains on schedule”. He further told the radio news network “no extension has been discussed at the moment” by Ramaphosa and the three member panel.

When the Mojapelo judicial enquiry was announced during the last weekend of May, Ramaphosa indicated it would sit behind closed doors and had six weeks to do its work but did not rule out an extension of time. It started its work on 6 June.