South Africa Says Inquiry Found No Evidence of Arms Shipment to Russia

The US ambassador to South Africa claimed without evidence that he knew a Russian ship that docked in the country last year was loaded with arms

On Sunday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said an independent inquiry found no evidence that a Russian cargo ship that docked in South Africa last year was loaded with weapons despite US claims.

The Russian ship, the Lady R, docked at a naval base near Capetown in December 2022, angering the US because the vessel is under US sanctions. Without evidence, US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety claimed in May that he knew the ship was loaded with weapons, saying he would bet his life on the assertion.

“The panel found no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export on to the ship, Lady R,” Ramaphosa said of the inquiry, which was led by a retired judge. “None of the persons who made these allegations could provide any evidence to support the claims made against our country.”

The South African leader said the Lady R docked at the base to deliver equipment that had been ordered for South Africa’s military in 2018.

Ramaphosa said the accusations hurt South Africa’s economy and that it called into question the country’s neutrality policy related to the war in Ukraine. When he made the allegation, Brigety said it would be “unacceptable” for South Africa to provide arms to Russia.

South African officials were unhappy Brigety made the accusation while an investigation was ongoing. In response to Ramaphosa’s news about the inquiry, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Pretoria said the US “will let South Africa speak for its panel’s conclusion.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.