Defence Minister Thandi Modise had explained last year that the Russian ship, which is in the middle of a diplomatic debate with the US, was in the country to get material that was ordered before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.
Modise had said the vessel had nothing to do with the Ukraine conflict. It had docked in the Western Cape to collect material ordered before 2020.
She had said at the time that she was also waiting for paperwork from her officials.
In December last year, Modise and her deputy, Thabang Makwetla, were briefing the media on the benefits of military veterans when the question was asked about the Russian vessel, Lady R.
She had said there was nothing untoward about the ship’s presence.
“You are asking about Lady R, the vessel. I do not want to comment on the content of this vessel until I get all the paperwork. I will be guessing and I will be giving you hearsay and tomorrow, you will say I am a liar. I’m very clear, I don’t want to be called a liar. I am waiting for the paperwork. I am waiting for the people who know.
“We do know, however, that whatever contents this vessel was getting were ordered long before Covid started. Therefore, the reason you are interested and America is interested in that vessel coming into our shores is actually because America threatens the rest of Africa, not just South Africa of having anything that is even smelling of Russia.”
Modise had said the government would need to apply its mind on the matter and not hastily give answers.