South African President Ramaphosa Appoints Panel To Investigate US Accusations Of Sending Weapons To Russia
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Wikimedia Commons/Pal layoffcio do Plan

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a panel to investigate US allegations of a Russian ship collecting weapons from a naval base near Cape Town last year, the Presidential Office said in a statement on Sunday.

The US Ambassador to South Africawas said on May 11, he believed a Russian ship, which docked at a naval base in Simonstown, Western Cape, in December last year, was carrying weapons from South Africa.

The allegations have been denied by South Africa, causing diplomatic disputes between the US, South Africa and Russia, and questioning South Africa's non-block position in the Ukraine conflict.

South Africa said it was impartial and abstained in a vote on UN resolutions regarding the Russia-Ukraine war.

"The president decided to form an investigation because of the seriousness of these allegations, the level of public interest and the impact of this issue on South Africa's international relations," the Presidential Office said in a statement.

The three-member panel will be chaired by Phineas Mojapelo, the former deputy chief judge in Gauteng Province. The other two members are Advocate Leah Gcabashe, who is the former leader of evidence for a state corruption investigation that ended last year, and Enver Surty, former deputy minister of basic education.

It said the panel had six weeks to conduct an investigation into the allegations.

Reference frameworks for the panel include determining who knows the arrival of the cargo ship, content loaded and dismantled, and "whether constitutional, legal, or other obligations have been fulfilled in connection with the arrival of the cargo ship."

President Ramaphosa is expected to receive a final report within two weeks of the investigation of the allegations being completed.

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