South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a commission to investigate US allegations that a Russian ship recovered weapons from a naval base near Cape Town last year, the presidency said in a statement on Sunday.
US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety said on May 11 he was confident a Russian ship, which docked at a naval base in Simonstown in the Western Cape last December, boarded arms from South Africa, an allegation South Africa has since denied.
The allegations sparked a diplomatic row between the United States, South Africa and Russia and called into question South Africa’s non-aligned stance on the Ukraine conflict.
South Africa claims to be impartial and abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the war.
“The President has decided to open the investigation due to the seriousness of the allegations, the extent of the public interest and the impact of this matter on South Africa’s international relations,” the statement said. communicated.
The three-member panel will be chaired by Phineas Mojapelo, former Deputy Chief Justice of Gauteng Province. The other two members are lawyer Leah Gcabashe, who was the former head of evidence for a state corruption probe that ended last year, and Enver Surty, the former deputy minister of basic education. She will have six weeks to conduct her investigation.
The commission’s mandate includes establishing who was aware of the cargo’s arrival, what contents were loaded and unloaded, and “whether constitutional, legal or other obligations were met with respect to the cargo’s arrival. cargo”.
The president should receive a final report within two weeks of the end of the investigation.