The executive summary of the independent panel’s investigation into the December 2022 docking of the Lady R vessel at Simonstown has been released.
The Presidency on Tuesday said that due to the classified nature of the evidence that informed the report, “government will not publicly engage further on the substance of the report”.
The vessel’s docking gave rise to public controversy, when now debunked allegations suggested that South Africa had loaded weapons onto the ship bound for Russia to assist in that country’s current conflict with Ukraine.
In the executive summary, the panel – led by Judge Phineas Mojapelo – explained that cargo was only offloaded from the vessel.
“The details of the equipment offloaded, and its intended use were made known to the panel. In light of this classified information, the panel accepted the reasons provided for the decision to offload the equipment at night.
“This, as well as the nature and purpose of the equipment, are aspects which may need to be considered when the President decides what may be published.
“Despite some rumours that some equipment or arms were loaded on the Lady R, the panel found no evidence to substantiate those claims. Available evidence only confirmed the offloading and that there was nothing loaded,” the summary reads.
During his address to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted that the allegations had done damage to South Africa’s image.
“In recent months, statements from several quarters have used these allegations to call into question South Africa’s commitment to its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The allegations levelled against our country had a damaging effect on our currency, economy and our standing in the world. In fact, it tarnished our image as a country.
“When all matters are considered, none of the allegations made about the supply of weapons to Russia have been proven to be true, and none of the persons who made these allegations could provide any evidence to support the claims that had been levelled against our country,” Ramaphosa said.