South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosaappointed a panel on Sunday to investigate U.S. accusations that a Russian vessel had collected weapons near Cape Town from a Naval Base last year.
Reuben Brigety, the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, said on May 11, that he is confident that a Russian vessel, which docked in Simonstown, Western Cape, in December of last year brought weapons from South Africa. South Africa, however, has denied this claim.
These allegations have sparked a diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and South Africa, and called South Africa’s nonaligned stance on the Ukraine conflict into question.
South Africa claims to be impartial and has abstained in voting for U.N. Resolutions on the War.
The statement said that “the President decided to set up the inquiry because of the seriousness and public interest of these allegations as well as the impact on South Africa’s relations with other countries.”
Phineas Mjapelo will preside over the three-member panel. He is a former Gauteng deputy judge president. The two other members are Enver Surty and Advocate Leah Gcabashe. Enver was a former deputy minister for basic education. The investigation will take six weeks.
The panel’s terms of reference include determining who knew about the arrival of the cargo ship and what was loaded and unloaded, as well as “whether constitutional, legal, or other obligations in relation to cargo ship arrival were met.”
A final report is to be sent to the president within two weeks after the conclusion of an investigation.