SA Army chief in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart

The SA naval dockyard in Simon’s Town, Cape Town, where the Lady R docked in December. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

South African Army chief Lt-Gen Lawrence Mbatha is in Moscow for talks with his counterpart‚ Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday.

Commander-in-chief of the ground forces of the Russian armed forces Oleg Salyukov and Mbatha “discussed agreements on further enhancing co-operation and increasing the combat readiness of the armed forces of both countries”‚ reported the state run TASS news agency.

Details of the visit come on the heels of a diplomatic fallout between the US and South Africa over claims on May 11 by US ambassador Reuben Brigety that South Africa shipped arms aboard the Lady R — which docked in Simon’s Town naval base in December — to Russia.

The Presidency said the government would implement an independent inquiry to probe the allegations — denied by South Africa but which threaten its lucrative trade and diplomatic ties with the US.

“During the meeting of the military leaders‚ agreements were reached to further increase co-operation between the ground forces in various fields‚” the Russian defence ministry said.

“If it did happen as the Americans claim‚ it could be conduct of people who were mischief makers‚” finance minister Enoch Godongwana was quoted as saying by Bloomberg regarding the allegations that arms were loaded on to the Lady R in Simon’s Town.

“People who have got that information must provide that information to the judge so we can take the necessary action.”

Source: ARENA Holdings.