South African MPs worried about their government’s arming Russia
The Russian container ship Lady R docks at the Simons Town Naval Base in Cape Town, South Africa on December 7, 2022 (Photo:REUTERS / Esa Alexander)
South African MPs say they want to know whether their government is selling weapons to Russia, after a sanctioned Russian cargo ship was seen docked at a navy base near Cape Town, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported on Dec. 9.
The Lady R, a Russian flagged cargo ship, was spotted in South Africa’s Simon’s Town naval port at night from Dec. 8 to Dec. 9.
The vessel was off-loaded and on-loaded again during power cuts that are regular in the country, the South African newspaper Daily Maverick reported, referring to eyewitnesses who took pictures of the process.
They saw the ship leave the port around 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 9, local media wrote. Vessel tracking services showed the ship's transponder was turned off while leaving, as well as prior to arrival, so its exact location was unknown.
The Lady R is a relatively small 7,260 ton vessel designed to carry vehicles and cargo containers, The Telegram stated. It belongs to and operates by Transmorflot LLC, a Russian company registered in Dagestan.
Transmorflot and its six ships, including the Lady R, were sanctioned for transporting weapons for the Russian war against Ukraine by the United States in May 2022.
Kobus Marais, the defense spokesman for the opposition Democratic Alliance, wrote to the South African Defense Minister, Thandi Modise, demanding an explanation for the ship's visit.
The Defense Ministry has yet to comment.
The Telegraph recalled that Modise visited Moscow to attend a conference hosted by Sergei Shoigu in August 2022.
However, currently, there is no evidence that South Africa has provided Russia with weapons since the beginning of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), the government agency that all South African arms firms must apply for permission before exporting weapons, says it has no record of sales to Russia.
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