Modise still mum on Lady R

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The “deafening silence” around Lady R and her seemingly secret stop in Naval Base (NB) Simon’s Town’s harbour serves only to raise suspicions Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais maintains.

The seven thousand plus ton cargo vessel exited the naval harbour in False Bay on Friday and by today (Tuesday, 13 December) there was still no word from one of four possible sources in the South African government defence sector on the reason/s for what appears to be more a clandestine call rather than an emergency stop. They are the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, headed by Thandi Modise; the Department of Defence (DoD) through its Head of Communication (HOC) Siphiwe Dlamini; the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in the form of Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, Director: Corporate Communication and Captain Sam Khasuli, SSO Public Relations at SA Navy (SAN) headquarters.

“The complete silence from the SANDF and Defence Minister Modise supports the suspicion something illegal happened during the unwelcome visit of Russian cargo ship, the Lady R,” Marais said adding the lack of communication “also supported inferences weapons were unloaded and moved by truck”.

The presence of the Russian Federation cargo vessel, sanctioned by the US (United States) Treasury Department for apparent involvement in the ongoing Russia/Ukraine conflict, makes it “increasingly clear the South African government is openly siding with Russia”. Further proof of this, according to him, is the South African government’s refusal to reject the Russian invasion.

Marais asks, following an as yet unanswered letter to Modise, “if unloading defence equipment was legal and a declaration of goods made in terms of relevant legislation and regulations, why all the secrecy?”

He refers to another SANDF/DoD faux pas – the apparent smuggling of an unregistered Cuban COVID-19 prophylactic into South Africa to be dispensed to military medics and soldiers working in close proximity to the pandemic – and asks if what came off the Lady R is possibly similar. “Declarations by the military that these (Heberon) were legal imports were later proven false and contrary to laws and regulations governing medicine and medical imports.”

In closing, Marais asks if the Minister (Modise) realises the damage her ongoing silence is doing to essential trade links, foreign policy and “the already unsatisfactory image of the SANDF as well as government siding with one of the pariahs of the world?”