No SA arms loaded on Lady R – Gungubele

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South Africa hasn’t sold or supplied arms or weapons to Russia since 2020, Mondli Gungubele, National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) chair, told a Parliamentarian attempting to dig deeper into December’s Simon’s Town docking of Russian freighter Lady R.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) National Assembly (NA) public representative, Magdalena Hlengwa, wanted Gungubele, currently Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, to provide information on “illegal acts” compromising State security and weapons destined for President Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation armed forces.

Her question was responded to and published on 29 June a month after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a behind closed doors, judicial inquiry into the Lady R’s presence in Simon’s Town, the SA Navy (SAN) fleet home port.

Gungubele, formerly Minister in The Presidency, informed his questioner the South African government did not load “arms from South Africa destined for Russia” on the Lady R.

The NCACC, the controlling authority for conventional arms control in South Africa, “has not authorised any transfers to Russia since 2020” his reply reads with the addition “this would rule out such transfers being authorised”.

He elaborates, referring to a Presidency statement pointing out an inquiry headed by a retired judge will delve into the Lady R and her presence in Simon’s Town, given the seriousness of arms for Russia claims and the negative implications for the country’s International standing. “This is where we find ourselves regarding whatever claim has been made about the alleged transfers of arms to Russia,” the Ministerial reply reads.

He offers his questioner a parting shot by way of saying, “It is perhaps prudent the investigation runs its course to pronounce a competent outcome settling the matter with an informed ruling”.

On 29 May a three-person panel was appointed by Ramaphosa to be headed by retired judge Phineas Mojapelo. It, according to Gungubele, “is currently hard at work to bring this matter to its ultimate conclusion”. The panel has six weeks period to conclude its investigation but this can be extended.