South Africa delivered weapons to Russia, says US ambassador

The U.S. ambassador in Pretoria accused South Africa on Thursday of having provided military support to Russia, despite its declared neutrality in the conflict with Ukraine, during a meeting with local media.
According to Reuben Brigety, the United States is convinced that “weapons and ammunition were loaded” on board a Russian cargo ship, docked near Cape Town in early December, “before it left for Russia.”
“Arming the Russians is extremely serious and we do not believe that this issue has been resolved. We would like South Africa to start practicing its policy of non-alignment,” he added at the meeting.
The docking of the ship at the country’s largest naval base, Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula, caused controversy in the country before Christmas. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), called on the government to explain how a Russian cargo ship targeted by Western sanctions was allowed to dock. Its defense official, Kobus Marais, questioned why the cargo ship was docked in a military port rather than a commercial port and “why there is so much secrecy” surrounding the ship.
Through a press release Thursday evening, Pretoria responded to Reuben Brigety. “While no evidence has been provided to date to support these allegations, the Government has undertaken to institute an independent enquiry to be led by a retired judge”, issued the South African Presidency. The same official response emphasized: “It is therefore disappointing that the US Ambassador has adopted a counter-productive public posture that undermines the understanding reached on the matter and the very positive and constructive engagements between the two delegations”.
South Africa did not take sides after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, a war that triggered widespread Western sanctions.