Lady R’s cargo was an ‘old order’ for ammunition, Modise says, but remains tight-lipped on details
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise has broken her silence on the Russian cargo vessel Lady R which docked in Simon’s Town Navy Base earlier this month.
The cargo offloaded by Russian ship Lady R was an “an old, outstanding order for ammunition used by the Special Forces”.
This was according to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise who was briefing the media on the progress relating to benefits for military veterans, on Thursday morning. During the briefing she was asked to respond to questions about Lady R.
Until now the minister has kept mum on the ship’s arrival and dawn departure, and there has been no official explanation from the Department of Defence (DoD), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), nor the navy for the arrival of the ship. This is despite a number of calls from politicians and repeated media requests.
Read in Daily Maverick: “State Defence, SANDF silent in face of speculation Lady R was shipping Russian weaponry”
Addressing the media on Thursday, Modise refused to respond to detailed questions about Lady R, saying she didn’t want to comment on the contents of the vessel because she “will be guessing” until she receives all the paperwork.
“I am waiting for the paperwork; I’m waiting for the people who know,” she said.
However, the minister did confirm that Lady R’s cargo was an old order which had been made before the pandemic. DA defence spokesperson Kobus Marais previously told Daily Maverick that the information he had received was that the unloaded cargo was “an old, outstanding order for ammunition used by the Special Forces”.
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Modise said: “We do know, however, that whatever contents this vessel was getting, were ordered long before Covid started, and therefore the reason you are interested and America is interested in that vessel, coming into our shores, is actually because America threatens the rest of Africa – not just South Africa – of having anything that is even smelling of Russia.
“As far as they’re concerned, we must consume all the Russian vodka quickly and if it is depleted you will be found wanting for drinking the Russian vodka,” said the minister.
Read in Daily Maverick: “Cloak and dagger – the infamous nights Simon’s Town became Vladimir Putin’s town”
The minister did not go into detail about the nature of the ship’s cargo.
Modise said Lady R was a matter on which members of the department needed to “apply [their] heads” and not rush into giving responses. DM