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Minister of defensive — Thandi Modise repeats ‘We put fokol’ on Lady R mantra as MPs demand answers

Minister of defensive — Thandi Modise repeats ‘We put fokol’ on Lady R mantra as MPs demand answers
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise at a media briefing on 22 December, 2022. (Photo: Jairus Mmutle / GCIS)

Modise again shot down accusations that South Africa loaded arms on board the Lady R in December 2022, in Parliament on Tuesday.

“I will reiterate what I said: We put fokol on that ship,” said Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise in Tuesday’s debate on the Defence Budget Vote.

The Minister said she had welcomed the “President’s calling for an inquiry into the matter of Lady R”, and that all necessary documentation would be made available in the inquiry.

The Minister’s statements came in response to questions from the opposition. 

Earlier, DA MP Kobus Marais had questioned who had granted authorisation for Lady R to dock at Simon’s Town naval base, in December 2022.  

Read in Daily Maverick: Lady R in South Africa

Marais put it bluntly: “Let’s deal with the elephant in the room: the irrational Russian love affair”.

“Ammunition imports and exports happen via official Portnet ports of entry. Authorisation was granted to the Lady R, a Russian commercial vessel, to bypass commercial ports and abuse our naval base instead.

“Unrestricted access was seemingly allowed for offloading and reloading cargo, during the midnight hours of 6 to 8 December, with little or no control on the naval precinct,” he said.

Marais described the clandestine operation at Simon’s Town naval base as “a major national security breach.”

“Who authorised this, and why?” he asked. 

“With the 2019/2020 import permits for the Russian ammunition still valid, something was loaded onto the Lady R. Was it ammunition? If not, release the vessel’s cargo manifest to confirm this.”

Marais warned the Minister that the longer she stayed silent, the more damage to the country’s international image, investments and trade interests — such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) — and economic prosperity.

Read in Daily Maverick: SA’s ever-closer ties with Russia jeopardise R60bn in annual exports to US under Agoa deal

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) also raised concerns about the docking of the Lady R in Simon’s Town.

“The question is, what was loaded on and off the ship during the midnight hours. If it was innocent, release the cargo manifest. Ongoing silence on this issue threatens very important trade relations with the West,” said ACDP MP Steve Swart. 

Delivering her budget vote speech, Modise said the DoD has a budget of R51.1-billion for the 2023/2024 financial year. This is slightly lower than its previous budget for 2022/2023, which was R51.6-billion. 

The defence allocation for 2023/2024 represents 2.28% of South Africa’s total expenditure of R2.243-trillion. 

“We have set aside R30.6-billion for compensation of employees, because this still leaves us underfunded by R2.6-billion, if you count the actual boots on the ground,” she said. 

“Due to the underfunding of the cost of employment, we are likely to be over-spending by R3-billion in the current financial year.”

The spending on compensation of employees (CoE) has been an ongoing concern for the DoD in recent years, as the DoD has been unable to stay within the CoE ceiling of the National Treasury, with significant over-expenditure. 

“The ceiling remains largely un-implementable, contributes to irregular expenditure and impacts heavily on the country’s defence capabilities,” said deputy minister, Thabang Makwetla. 

“The committee’s budget report we are moving today expresses its concern to the Cabinet in this regard, and calls on the DoD and the National Treasury to urgently find a feasible way forward in dealing with the CoE,” said Makwetla. 

He said that the joint standing committee on defence and the portfolio committee on defence have taken an “unprecedented step”, to write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to bring to his attention the “serious situation that the SANDF is facing.”


Consistent with the parliamentary committee’s recommendations, the National Treasury has agreed to additional funding of R1.4-billion over the medium term to “upgrade SA navy frigates and submarines”, said Makwetla. 

Additionally, the National Treasury has allocated additional funding of R1-billion in 2023/2024 to strengthen the country’s airlift transport capability, he said. 

“The committee noted the need for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to remain a technologically advanced force, and advocated for the increased use of technology on South Africa’s border as a force multiplier,” said Makwetla. 

The National Treasury has agreed to additional funding of R500-million in 2024/2025, and R200-million in 2025/2026 to procure equipment and technology to aid the safeguarding of borders. 

“A defence force is an important foreign policy tool in any nation, and South Africa is no different… The SANDF contributes to regional security through its participation in two external missions in the DRC and Mozambique,” said Makwetla.  

In 2023/2024, South Africa will maintain a total contingent of 957 members deployed in the DRC, and 1,495 members in Mozambique as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) peacekeeping mission. 

According to Modise, the mission in the DRC will receive R1-billion in 2023/2024, while the mission in Mozambique is allocated R850-million. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    As I read this article, all I see is a sea of opportunity … for graft and corruption. SA can’t manage the basics – the essentials for its population – but ‘the committee’ (another committee?) ‘noted the need for the SANDF to remain a technologically advanced force’. (SANDF is a ‘technologically advanced force’? Really? Hilarious.) We know what this finding means. Translation: expensive boondoggles, transfers of cash, purchases of ‘stuff’ no-one ever learns how to use or, more importantly, maintain, that doesn’t work in Africa. How about becoming ‘technologically’ basic and fixing water supply, or maybe the grid?

  • Anthony Sturges says:

    And with that vulgar remark, we are no further along the road to knowing what happened that night and why!

  • johanw773 says:

    Did she get language lessons from Fikile “I fear fokol” Mbalula? What plonkers these people are!

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Pity she didn’t mean they put Fix Fokol on the ship!. .
    The secrecy trend in the ANC contributes to our suspicions. They used to use the term transparency a lot. Now that’s an inconvenient concept and we are all in the dark literally and otherwise. They don’t own the country but strut about as if they do. And it’s not appropriate in their view to tell us anything at all.

  • Gerhard Vermaak says:

    So ……… if f*k*l was loaded surely you will have no issue with supplying the documents to prove it, geez how difficult is that! Are you deliberately acting thick!

  • Pet Bug says:

    Unbecoming abusive utterances by anyone, certainly from a minister.
    Sweating points to, besides shades of Tourette Syndrome, an insecure person, and reveals dishonesty and low intellect. We don’t need her coping mechanism on show.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Swearing of course …

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    In the race for dumbest politician of the year this one is challenging Fikile Mbalula for the lead. She wouldn’t recognize the truth if it smacked her on the head and she’s a very poor liar. All things considered she’s got F*k*l going for her.

  • Luan Sml says:

    Language most unbecoming, but the irony of this statement coming from the Minster of Defence is not lost on us… in the words of the Bard “ The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  • David Pennington says:

    It’s like trying to understand a brick

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Define “we”as in “we put fool on that ship”, and then ask the question, if not “we”, then who else had access to a supposedly secure, military-controlled dockyard at the dead of night, and was photographed loading “something”on to a Russian boat, whilst in a militarily secured dockyard?

    Really Ms Modise – it is not a hard question to answer, once you have defined the “we”, then who is the “who”?

  • Andrew W says:

    As always with the any Cadre, the stronger the protest the more likely the opposite is true. If there was nothing, simply say so and provide the manifest. That doesn’t seem to be an option, so we can only assume that the Americans are right. No My Leader, you are being colonized by the Rouble and the Russians, you just havent fiugeed it out.

    Next tourist in town is Vlad the Impaler in Augst

  • Peter Doble says:

    See all, hear all, speak nowt – you can apply this Yorkshire saying with the appropriate expletive. The South Africans have been handed a timebomb by a deplorable bunch of dimwits.
    Political stooges who are unqualified, inactive and incapable – especially of telling the truth.

    Mbalula was probed by a tough BBC interviewer, aired yesterday. While admitting his country was nearly a “failed state” and the “load shedding was a mess”, the ANC secretary general maintained the country was “recovering well” and defended the ANC’s economic record. “We have been able to cushion our people from the worst,” he said, after a legacy of “300 years of deprivation and a mismanaged country and economy”.

    He didn’t mention the last 30 years of achieving Modise’s erudite description.

  • Dr Know says:

    Force Multiplier? More like a Farce Multiplier. Fess up so we can clean the wound before the scrap metal value of our coins exceeds the face value of our paper money.

  • Rae Earl says:

    A blatant example of ANC Mind Over Matter, “We don’t mind and you don’t matter”. The defence force is there to protect South Africans. Against what? Pity the ANC government doesn’t rather start protecting its citizens from cholera outbreaks or destruction of facilities for the mentally ill.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    This minister is lying through her teeth. Or she doesn’t know her arse from her elbow. And using the same word to describe what was loaded onto the ship as what’s going on in her department (and in her brain) and won’t convince anyone, especially not the Americans. People in the know reckon the most likely thing that could have been uploaded is rocket propellant, which is manufactured by Denel in Wolseley.

  • Soil Merchant says:

    The eloquence of our ministers is something to behold indeed.

  • Michael Kearney says:

    Such a classy act.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    a filthy mouth says it all. Minister, I guarantee you did not even know lady R was in town! was the ship just docking like our taxis stop anywhere they like. naval base and keypoint! Madame, DO YOU REALLY THINK WE ARE AS STUPID AS YOU APPEAR TO THINK.

  • Philip Armstrong says:

    Every time you think this lot have hit a low point, they defy all odds and take it even lower. Mind boggles at the ineptness and grotesque stupidity they put on public display routinely. Do they really think we all are as stupid as they are!

  • Dou Pienaar says:

    Again it boggles my mind at how good we are at reporting and debating the obvious disaster we face as a nation, with this incompetent and corrupt government’s actions. I would like to see more suggestions on how we can ‘Push Back’ vigorously! We better wake up and find ways to get rational South Africans to collectively resist what is going on.

  • Agf Agf says:

    She is about as useful as a one legged man at an arse kicking contest

  • Hermann Funk says:

    A real lady 🙂

  • virginia crawford says:

    One can only imagine how she/they speak in private if this is any indication. So trashy, so unprofessional and disrespectful. When other countries tell her to F##₩ off, she shouldn’t be surprised.

  • Theresa Schumann says:

    There is no smoke without fire. That this Minister of Defence keeps denying that no cargo was loaded on to the Lady R smacks of deceit. This will intensify questioning from fellow South Africans as to the ANC’s deceit.

  • William Stucke says:

    “Due to the underfunding of the cost of employment, we are likely to be over-spending by R3-billion in the current financial year.”

    So, she’s actually PLANNING to break the law by exceeding the allocated budget?

  • Louise Wilkins says:

    Such a refined, eloquent lady. Just like all our ministers.

  • Theresa Schumann says:

    What about the Daphne submarines that Germany supplied? I have heard they are rusting in Simonstown.
    This enquiry into the Lady R’s cargo by Ramaphosa will only yield information that the ANC wants to hear. What about the Chinese vessel that docked in Simonstown weeks before the Lady R, also with its transponder switched off? No news about this!

  • warrick sony says:

    There is a great song by Koos Kombuis titled “The Fokkol Song”. He wrote it in 2010 during the soccer World Cup but Fokkol has changed. It’s on YouTube. The best version is in a club on his own with a backing singer if you can find it.

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