‘Not even a rat’ was sent to Russia – Defence Minister
South Africa’s defence minister insisted that the country didn’t ship weapons to Russia and welcomed plans for an inquiry into allegations by the US that it did.
US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety ignited a diplomatic furore on May 11 when he told reporters that he would “bet my life” that armaments were collected by a Russian cargo ship, the Lady R, from the Simon’s Town naval base in Cape Town in December.
While South Africa’s government denied the accusation and criticized him, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an independent inquiry to probe the claims.
Asked on Tuesday whether South Africa shipped armaments to Russia, Defense Minister Thandi Modise said: “We didn’t. Not even a rat.”
Ramaphosa earlier this month said he would appoint a retired judge to head the inquiry, without saying when it would begin its work.
“I welcome the president calling for an inquiry into the matter,” Modise said in an interview. “I say that if the defence force lied to me that something has been put in, it will emerge. All the documentation of the South African Revenue Service will be made available to that inquiry.”