Lady R: The big cover-up continues

Issued by Kobus Marais MP – DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
13 Jun 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached Afrikaans and English soundbite by Kobus Marais MP.

A letter sent to me yesterday by the Department of Defence (DoD) makes it very clear that they are planning to cover up the truth regarding the Russian Lady R ship incident in Simon’s Town. Instead of providing the DA with the true facts, the Department decided to pass the buck and delay the release of crucial information.

This follows on the heels of President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing that he intends to classify the report of the inquiry into the alleged loading of ammunition onto the Lady R.

When we submitted a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) on 11 May, we sought important details regarding the manifest of goods loaded and offloaded from the Lady R ship at the naval base in Simon’s Town. Additionally, we requested import and export approvals, including lists of the loaded and offloaded goods by the Russian plane at Waterkloof Airforce Base, along with the landing authorization. Despite the legally mandated 30-day response period, the Department of Defence only responded by informing us that our request would need to go through multiple offices in the Department’s chain of command.

We question why the DoD did not initiate this process immediately upon receiving our PAIA application if they were genuinely interested in accountability. The delayed response suggests a deliberate attempt to stall and obstruct the release of crucial information. It is abundantly clear that they are aware of what was on that Russian ship and plane and are actively engaged in a cover-up.

If the DoD believes that they can prolong the process in the hopes that the findings from President Ramaphosa’s panel inquiry will be classified, they have gravely miscalculated. The DA Leader, John Steenhuisen, has made it clear that we will seek legal advice to challenge President Ramaphosa’s plan to hide the report once it is complete. We will not allow crucial evidence of the alleged smuggling of ammunition to arm Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine and other parts of Africa to be concealed. The purpose of the investigation itself will be undermined if the complete picture is not disclosed.

The DA remains committed to uncovering the truth and ensuring transparency and accountability within our government. We will not rest until the South African people receive the answers they deserve, and the responsible parties are held to account.

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